Shoulder Injury Rehab Part 1: Range of Motion

8 Movements Needed for Full Shoulder Rehabilitation

The first stage of shoulder injury rehabilitation is to restore range of motion. The shoulders are host to the most flexible and movable joints in your body, consisting of a ball and socket and a floating shoulder blade held on your ribs by muscle. It is unstable in nature and needs the help of muscles, tendons and ligaments to keep its three bones in place – the clavicle, scapula, and humerus. Due to their instability, the shoulders are a common site for injuries such as fractures, dislocations, torn rotator cuffs, frozen shoulders, separations, tendinitis, arthritis, bursitis, sprains and strains.

All of these conditions will decrease the shoulder’s mobility, cause discomfort, and perhaps severe pain when trying to complete even the most simple of daily tasks. If a shoulder condition is left untreated, there is even the possibility of creating further injury as the body can unknowingly shift out of alignment to compensate for shoulder pain

All rehabilitation exercises completed should be functional and practical to the shoulder’s natural kinetic chain of movement patterns. If a shoulder condition is left untreated, there is even the possibility of creating further injury as the body can unknowingly shift out of alignment to compensate for the shoulder’s pain.

8 Shoulder Movement Patterns for Rehabilitation

Perform these basic movements several times in a row to improve or maintain shoulder mobility. Make sure that you only go through pain-free ranges. These are not a substitute for Physiotherapy or the advice a Physician.  

  1. 1
     Shoulder Flexion: Keeping your arm straight and lifting it forward and upward, try to reach overhead towards the ceiling.
  2. 2
    Shoulder Extension: Reaching your arm back behind you, without rolling the shoulder forward.
  3. 3
    Shoulder Adduction:  Moving the upper arm to the side, toward the body
  4. 4
    .Shoulder Abduction: Moving the upper arm to the side, away from the body. When your arm is parallel to the ground, rotate your arm to point your thumb to the ceiling; continue as far as you can.
  5. 5
    Horizontal Adduction: Start with your arm parallel to the ground, palm down. Bring your arm across your body, reaching towards the opposite shoulder.
  6. 6
    Horizontal Abduction: Place your hand on the opposite shoulder. Move your arm out towards the side, reaching away from your torso. Keep the arm raised and parallel to the ground.
  7. 7
    Internal (Medial) Rotation:</b> Bend elbow 90 degrees, turning inward (close door) towards the middle of your body.
  8. 8
    External (Lateral) Rotation: Bend elbow 90 degrees, turning outward (open door). Moving your hand away from your body.

When you are doing these movements, notice if your shoulder blade is moving freely with it. Future  shoulder injury rehabilitation   posts will discuss this, including stretches and exercises for specific injuries.

All of these exercises target not only the rotator cuff, but also the surrounding muscles of the shoulder that can be weakened as well. For optimal function the latissimus dorsi, pectoralis major/minor, deltoid, biceps brachii, triceps brachii, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, teres major and coracobrachialis, all need to be in balance in strength and flexibility

Depending on the level of mobility and severity of injury, shoulder flexibility and/or resistance be focused on when performing these specific movement patterns

Do you need guidance with recovering from a shoulder injury? We have the expertise to determine which specific rehabilitation exercises that are appropriate for you and your condition. 

Shoulder Rehabilitation References

McMullen, John & Uhl, Timothy L. (Jul-Sep 2000). A Kinetic Chain Approach for Shoulder Rehabilitation. Journal of Athletic Trainin, Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 329-337. Lexington Sports Medicine Center, University of Kentucky, USA.

Kibler WB, McMullen J, & Uhl T. (Jul 2001). Shoulder Rehabilitation strategies, guidelines, and practice. Orthopedic Clinics of North America. Vol. 32, No. 3, pp. 527-38. Lexington Sports Medicine Center, University of Kentucky, USA.

Hawkins R, Litchfield R, Atkins J, Hagerman G, & Dillman CJ. (1996). Rehabilitation of the shoulder. Ann Chir Gynaecol. Vol. 85, No. 2, pp. 173-84. Department of Orthopaedics, University of Colorado, Denver, USA.<

Last Updated on April 16, 2021 by Alfred Ball

Alfred Ball

Practicing Kinesiologist | Certified Fascia Stretch Therapist | Clinical Pilates Instructor. Alfred has been a Kinesiologist since 1999. He started Lifemoves in 2007 to provide exercise therapy and fitness programs for people with injuries, chronic diseases and disabilities. His focus as a Kinesiologist is to empower and to guide people to learn to move with more strength, confidence and ease. He is an avid Lego and Star Wars fan. His other hobbires include writing, playing board games and being active outdoors.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Leave a Comment: