Stretches & Exercises

Some shoulder problems can be the result of imbalances, weaknesses or tight areas in the muscles. Quite often our daily activities, our work or our recreational activities will result in using our shoulders in an "imbalanced" way. When these imbalances develop in our body, it leads to improper function, strain to the tissues in the shoulder, and finally shoulder pain.

For example, just sitting at a keyboard and typing can lead to tightness and weakness in the muscles across the top of the shoulder. A baseball pitcher may overdevelop muscles in the front of the shoulder, leaving the muscles in the back of the shoulder weak and tight. A weightlifter will commonly overwork the larger deltoid and chest muscles, and neglect strengthening the back muscles or the rotator cuff. Just about any hobby or sport or activity that you can think of can lead to some muscles being stronger and other muscles being weaker, some being tighter and others being too loose.

The most detrimental muscle imbalance found in shoulder problems is weakness of the rotator cuff muscles. Remember, the job of the rotator cuff is to keep the shoulder in alignment when we move it. It has the equivalent job of balancing a golf ball on a tee while it rotates throughout 180 degrees of range of motion.

In all these scenarios, rehabilitating a shoulder is very valuable for restoring normal function. When a proper balance of strength, flexibility and coordination is restored, shoulder pain will usually not return.

There is one very big fault with rehabilitation, however. If there is any significant amount of adhesion present in the shoulder, attempts at rehabilitation will be futile. This is because the adhesion does not go away with stretching and strengthening. Rather, as the rehabilitative exercise is attempted, it can re-enforce poor biomechanics, and lead to further damage to the shoulder. If by any chance a person is able to work through the pain of rehab, the persistent nature of the adhesion will likely cause a relapse upon return to activity.

It is not within the scope or intent of this website to go over in detail all the stretches and exercises out there. They are difficult to explain and they must be done properly in order to be effective. Further, each rehabilitation program should be customized to meet the specific needs of each individual shoulder injury. If done improperly, rehabilitative exercises can actually do more harm than good.