Having a healthy, functional and pain free shoulder requires good postural position and mobility of the shoulder. The shoulder is a joint in the body which is very heavily influenced by the position it rests in and also the mobility it is able to make. What shoulder exercises help us get this?
When I look online I see a lot of focus from people on strengthening shoulder exercises. This obviously is important. However, strengthening a dysfunctional movement pattern in the shoulder will only lead to further dysfunction. If your tires in your car were out of alignment, would you decide to drive faster and further to correct it? In the same way, if your shoulder’s “alignment” were off, why would we want to push it into further strengthening?
There are a lot of issues and diagnoses we can have in the shoulder. Some of the most common ones are impingements, bursitis, rotator cuff strains and tears, biceps tendonosis and labral tears. If an injury was not caused by a sudden high impact event, like a fall or sudden pull back on the arm, then most likely the main contributor to the shoulder issues has its roots in a postural or mobility issue in the shoulder complex. Notice that I said “shoulder complex”. What does that mean? It means our concern is not simply in the ball and socket shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint). Our focus on posture and mobility has to be broader, which includes looking at the mobility and position of the shoulder blade (scapula) and the thoracic spine.
It would take a complete physical therapy evaluation to figure out what the main issue is with anyone’s particular shoulder dysfunction. However, over the years of treating shoulder injuries in our physical therapy clinic in Huntington Beach, CA I have been able to narrow down some of the most common dysfunctions that people’s shoulder have. In fact, there are a handful of shoulder exercises which I will use in almost every shoulder patient that I see. Why is this? Because we tend to develop similar postural and mobility dysfunctions in our shoulders. These foundational shoulder exercises can be used to recover from an injury, but even better, they can be used to prevent an injury from happening.
Do you want to take a proactive approach to keeping your shoulder healthy? You can and should strengthen the shoulder. However, you must focus on the posture and mobility of the shoulder complex in order to stay out of pain’s way. I’ve picked the top 3 shoulder exercises someone should do to keep a healthy shoulder. Want to try them out? Go ahead and give them a shot.