I have shoulder problems. Are there exercises that would be safe for me?

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David Hogarth
Physical Therapy
It depends upon what type of shoulder problems you have. Efficient function of the shoulder joint is a delicate balance between mobility and stability.

If you have problems with not enough mobility, you could be pinching structures around the joint when you try to reach overhead or out across your body. In this case, stretching exercises for the front and upper shoulder will help in addition to pulling (or rowing) type strengthening movements which help to improve the posture of the shoulders.

If your problem is due to having too much mobility and not enough stability (for example if your shoulder is so loose that it pops out), then stretching may not be recommended. You will benefit from strengthening through a limited range of motion in all directions with particular attention to the rotator cuff muscles which work to stabilize the shoulder.

An appropriately trained medical professional will be able to help you determine what the source of your particular shoulder problem is and which direction you should work in to exercise safely.

Exercises that would be considered safe for your shoulders depend on the cause and severity of your shoulder problems. Some common rehabilitative shoulder exercises include a mix of mild stretching and light resistance training. Typical static stretches include a chest stretch, lat stretch, biceps stretch, triceps stretch and posterior shoulder stretch. All of these stretches help to relax and lengthen muscles that connect to the shoulder area. Typical strengthening exercises include a cable external rotation, cable internal rotation, dumbbell scaption, and dumbbell cobra. However, talk to your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.