Shoulder Rehab Exercises: Improving Mobility
rehab exercises to improve mobility are slightly different from range of motion exercises
. When I
talk about mobility with my patients, I refer to joint motion, and
restrictions that are caused by joint tightness. In the shoulder,
mobility restrictions can be caused by the joint capsule. Mobility
restrictions in the thoracic spine can also lead to mobility issues in
have included several shoulder mobility exercises below. I use them
daily with my patients to improve their mobility, and to facilitate
better range of motion in the shoulder. Improving
Shoulder Capsule MobilityThe most common mobility
restriction that I see in my patients is in the posterior shoulder
capsule. Tightness in this part of the joint will cause several
problems in the shoulder.
A tight posterior capsule
will result in decreased internal rotation. Sometimes referred to as
Glenohumeral Internal Rotation Deficit, or GIRD, this restriction can
cause problems like shoulder impingement syndrome
may lead to rotator cuff tendonitis.
There are two ways to improve
posterior capsule mobility. The first is a simple cross body stretch.
perform this stretch, simply pull your shoulder directly across your
body, trying to pull your elbow as close to your shoulder as you can.
for 10-15 seconds, repeat 5 times.
This stretch can
help improve your posterior capsule, however, it is not as effective as
the sidelying posterior capsule stretch because it does not stabilize
The sidelying internal rotation
stretch is a much more effective way of improving mobility of the
posterior capsule. This is the shoulder stretching exercise that I give
my patients to work on at home.
To perform this
shoulder rehab exercise, begin by lying on your side, with the shoulder
to be stretched on the bottom.
Your lower arm
should be out in front of you, and your elbow bent to 90 degrees.
sure that your shoulders are straight up and down, as the red arrow
indicates in the picture to the right. If you are leaning too far
backward, you will not be able to effectively stretch the capsule.
Once in this
position, use your other hand to pull your arm down towards the floor
This produces internal rotation of the
shoulder, and will stretch the posterior capsule.
scapula will be stabilized because you are lying on your side.
should feel this stretch in the back of your shoulder as you pull.
for 10-15 seconds, repeat 5 times.Improving
Thoracic Spine MobilityOne area of shoulder rehab exercise
that is often overlooked is the thoracic spine. Believe it or not, the
mobility of the thoracic spine plays a huge role in how much shoulder
mobility and motion you have.
Our daily lives tend to leave us in a
poor posture position, with rounded and slumped shoulders. This lack of
thoracic extension can translate to loss of shoulder mobility,
especially with flexion overhead.
thoracic mobility I like to use a foam roller with my shoulder rehab
exercises. This is a great tool to
improve extension in the thoracic spine. It is not the most comfortable
exercise, but it works well.
To perform this exercise,
start off lying on the floor with the foam roller positioned just below
your shoulder blades.
Place your hands behind your head, and then slowly relax over the foam roller, letting your head drop as close to the floor as you can.
position for 10-20 seconds, and then slowly sit up.
yourself a little farther back, so the foam roller moves down your
spine, and then repeat. Work your way down your spine and then back up,
holding each stretch for 10-20 seconds.
mobility is essential to restoring normal range of motion and shoulder
function. Shoulder rehab exercises should focus on some type of
capsular stretching, as well as improving thoracic extension.
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