Shoulder Stability Exercises

Stability exercises for the shoulder are an important part of the rehabilitation process. In particular scapular stabilization (shoulder blade) is important for producing the normal movement patterns required in the shoulder joint to return to full fitness and prevent future injury.

Wobble board exercises for shoulder stability.

 

Aim:

  • To strengthen the scapular and core stabilizers.

Technique:

  • The athlete starts with the hands on the wobble board shoulder width apart.
  • For the more basic version of this exercise, the athlete supports themselves on their knees, this can be progressed through to the toes.
  • Whilst maintaining balance the athlete performs circular movements on the board.

Muscles worked:

  • Scapular and core stabilizers.

Swiss Ball Exercises

This is a plyometric exercise which challenges shoulder stability.

 

Aim:

  • This challenges the muscles of the upper extremity due to the shoulder having to provide stability.

Technique:

  • The athlete positions themselves on the ball at the hips and places the hands on the wobble board.
  • The athlete attempts to maintain balance whilst moving the arms.
  • This can be progressed by positioning the ball lower down the body.

Muscles worked:

  • This exercise works the muscles of the upper extremity through stabilizing the shoulder during motion.

Horizontal Abduction In Prone

The horizontal abduction exercise works the scapular stabilisers, as well as two of the rotator cuff muscles.

 

Aim:

  • This exercise strengthens the teres minor and the infraspinatus muscles along with the posterior deltoid and the scapular stabilizers.

Technique:

  • The athlete lies with the arm over the edge of the table.
  • The arm with the weight is lifted up into a horizontal extension.

Muscles worked:

  • Teres minor
  • Infraspinatus
  • Posterior deltoid
  • Scapular stabilizers.
  • This challenges the muscles of the upper extremity due to the shoulder having to provide stability.

The 151 drill

This exercise works the scapular, triceps and core stabilizers.

 

Aim:

  • To improve core stabilization and scapular control.

Technique:

  • The athlete assumes the quadruped position with the hand's shoulder width apart.
  • Whilst shifting the weight from side to side the athlete slaps the ball from one hand to the other in quick succession.

Muscles worked:


Swiss Ball Stabilization

This exercise strengthens the scapular stabilizers and the triceps.

 

Aim:

  • This exercise works on scapular and core stabilization.

Technique:

  • The athlete lies with a third of the body over the edge of the table.
  • Bearing all the weight on the arm on the ball the body is stabilized.
  • To progress this exercise the athlete controls the ball whilst moving it in a circular motion.

Muscles worked:

  • Scapular stabilizers and triceps.

The Lawn Mower

The lawn mower is a good shoulder exercise used to improve scapular stabilization using a resistance band.

Aim:

  • To improve core stability. This is a good exercise for the scapular stabilizers.

Technique:

  • The athlete starts with the hand to the inside of the opposite knee
  • They then move into an upright position, transferring weight onto the back foot, bringing the hand up to the ribs and squeezing the shoulder blades together and down.

Muscles worked:


Hand Walking on Treadmill / Stool

This exercise can either be carried out on a treadmill or a wheely stool.

Aim:

  • Distal movement exercises require control, strength and, in this case, shoulder stability.

Technique:

  • To start with the athlete is positioned with the knees on the floor and hands on the belt.
  • This exercise can also be performed using a stool
  • Starting the machine at a very slow speed, the athlete walks the hands forward.
  • This can be progressed by increasing the speed and duration of exercise, as well as performing the exercise with the feet on the floor, rather than the knees.

Muscles worked:

  • This exercise aids muscle control, endurance, and coordination.

The chest pass

This shoulder exercise improves the explosive strength of the upper body.

 

Aim:

  • To strengthen the scapular stabilizers, pectorals, wrist flexors, and triceps.
  • To improve the explosive strength of the upper body.

Technique:

  • The athlete stands one meter from a rebound net or partner and forcefully throws a medicine ball from chest height with both hands.
  • They then catch the rebound and immediately throw it again.

Muscles worked:


Medicine Ball Balance

This exercise focuses on scapular stabilization with an emphasis on balance.

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Aim:

  • This is a plyometric exercise designed to work the upper extremity whilst maintaining control of the shoulder.

Technique:

  • The athlete starts in a push-up position with feet on the floor and hands on a large medicine ball.
  • The aim is to maintain balance whilst keeping your shoulder blades rounded forwards.
  • Once this is easy, begin making small circles with the ball.

Muscles worked:


Internal Rotation with Band

This exercise strengthens the rotator cuff muscles which stabilise the shoulder joint. Working these muscles is important after shoulder injuries, especially dislocations and impingement syndromes.

Teaching Points

  • Start with the band attached to a fixed point to your side.
  • Hold another end of the band in one hand, with the elbow bent and upper arm by your side.
  • Keeping the elbow by your side, move your hand towards your stomach as far as is comfortable.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.

Muscles Worked

Related Injuries


Prone Fly On Swiss Ball

This shoulder exercise strengthens the rhomboids and the middle trapezius.

 

Aim:

  • To strengthen the Rhomboid muscles and central part of the trapezius muscle.

Technique:

  • The athlete is on their front over a table of gym ball and raises the arms back while squeezing the scapulae or shoulder blades
  • Perform in a controlled manner and repeat 5 to 10 times per set.

Muscles worked:


Lateral Rotation Front Lying

Lateral (external) rotation exercises strengthen the rotator cuff muscles.

Aim:

  • To strengthen the teres minor, infraspinatus and posterior deltoid.

Technique:

  • Laying on their front (prone) with the arm out to the side and elbow bent as shown, the athlete rotates the shoulder to lift the weight towards the ceiling as far as is comfortable.

Muscles worked:


Lateral rotation in standing

using a resistance band. Also known as the External Rotation in standing.

Aim:

  • To strengthen the teres minor, infraspinatus and posterior deltoid.
  • This is a very common shoulder rehabilitation exercise and an easy one to get started with.

Techniques:

  • The athlete stands holding the band with the elbow abducted in 90 degrees.
  • They rotate the shoulder outwards as far as is comfortable and return to the centre.
  • Exercise must be done under control and pain-free.

Muscles worked:


Lateral Rotation Band Abduction

This lateral rotation exercise strengthens the rotator cuff and requires a resistance band.

Aim:

  • Strengthens the rotator cuff and scapular muscles.

Technique:

  • The athlete sits with the upper arm supported and elbow bent to a right angle as shown. The arm is rotated so that the fist points to the ceiling.

Progression:

  • This can be made more challenging by removing the support of the couch.

Muscles worked:


Lateral rotation in abduction

this exercise uses a resistance band and is also known as the External Rotation in standing.

Aim:

  • To strengthen the teres minor, infraspinatus and posterior deltoid.

Techniques:

  • The athlete stands holding the band with the elbow abducted in 90 degrees.
  • The athlete elevates the arm, ensuring the elbow is also elevated.
  • The shoulder is maintained at 90-degree abduction without horizontal adduction or abduction.

Muscles worked:


Seated Push-Up

The seated push-up exercise works on the scapulothoracic body segment.

Aim:

  • Strengthens the pectoralis minor, lower trapezius, and the latissimus dorsi.

Technique:

  • The athlete sits with their hands by their sides, pushing down to lift the hips from the couch (or chair).
  • The elbows must be fully extended before the athlete returns to the seated position.

Muscles worked: