Home Exercises for the Weak Shoulder

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Last updated: January 17, 2014

The strength of your shoulder depends on the coordinated working of several groups of muscles including the muscles of the rotator cuff the deltoid and pectoralis major and the muscles that power the shoulder blade.

http://shoulderarthritis.blogspot.com/2012/12/shoulder-exercises.html - Simple to follow rehabilitation exercises.
http://shoulderarthritis.blogspot.com/2011/04/total-shoulder-for-arthritis_20.html - Shoulder arthroplasty for arthritis: rehabilitation: early strengthening.

Optimize strength and coordination

The simple exercises described here are designed to help you optimize the strength and coordination of these muscle groups. Before beginning these exercises you should consult with your physician.

Strengthening and Coordination

One of the most important actions to strengthen a weak shoulder is forward elevation. The main exercises are illustrated below.

Supine press

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Two Hands
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Two Hands
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One Hand
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Inclined Press
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Sitting Press

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Press Plus

The nice thing about these exercises is that you can do them by yourself and can adjust your rate of progress according to what is most comfortable for you. The series proceeds in small steps. Start by lying on your back grasping a bar with both hands together. Push the bar straight up toward the ceiling. At the end of each push lift your entire shoulder off the bed or floor. When you can do this 20 times easily separate your hands an inch or so when you push the cloth toward the ceiling. This places slightly more of the load on the muscles of your weaker shoulder. As the exercise gets easier separate your hands more on the washcloth until you can push your hand toward the ceiling without any assistance from the opposite arm. Practice this exercise with nothing in your hand until you are able to repeat it 20 times. Then take an empty pint container and perform the same movement pushing it toward the ceiling. Add water to increase the resistance slowly. When the container is full of water the weight is about one pound. Make sure that with each press-up you end by lifting your shoulder blade up off the bed or floor. Be sure that you can perform the movement comfortably 20 times at each stage before advancing to the next stage. When you can press one pound toward the ceiling 20 times the next step is to perform the exercise with your back propped up slightly on pillows or by using a recliner or garden chair. When 20 comfortable repetitions are possible increase the degree to which your back is propped up. At each level push the shoulder all the way up: "press plus". Continue this process until you are able to push the one pound weight 20 times toward the ceiling in a sitting position. Work for smooth slow controlled motions. This program optimizes the mechanics of your shoulder and gives you the best chance of regaining good function.

You should add other strengthening exercises as your shoulder permits.

Rotator cuff strengthening exercises

Internal rotation

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Internal Rotation
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Free Weight  

External Rotation

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External Rotation
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Free Weight
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Shoulder shrugs to strengthen trapezius

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Shoulder shrug
Shoulder shrug
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Shoulder shrug
Shoulder shrug

Other important strengthening exercises

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Exercise and Arthritis: Rhomboids
Exercise and Arthritis:
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Exercise and Arthritis: Flies
Exercise and Arthritis:
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Exercise and Arthritis: Stiff arm pull
Exercise and Arthritis:
Stiff arm pull
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Exercise and Arthritis: Table push ups
Exercise and Arthritis:
Table push ups

Coordination exercises

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Exercise and Arthritis: Balance
Exercise and Arthritis:
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Exercise and Arthritis: Two hand catch
Exercise and Arthritis:
Two hand catch


Regular fitness exercise helps keep your joints supple. This "lubricating" effect is optimized if you perform a half-hour of aerobic exercise each day.

Variety of fitness exercises

This exercise may take a variety of forms including brisk walking,  jogging,  riding a stationary or mobile bicycle rowing, climbing stairs or using a cross-country skiing simulator. If you have concerns about your ability to carry out such an exercise program you should consult your general physician. It is not important that these exercises be carried out vigorously it is only important that in addition to the stretching program a half an hour of your day be devoted toward some form of aerobic exercise. A guideline for someone with a healthy heart lungs and blood pressure is to work up to 30 minutes of exercise at a target of two-thirds of his or her maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is estimated by subtracting your age from 220. If you are over 35 and have not been exercising much or if you are not sure of your health you should consult your doctor before starting this aspect of the program.

If you have any questions about your shoulder or the proper treatment, let your doctor know.

Shoulder & Elbow Articles

  1. About the Mechanics of Shoulder Stability.
  2. Anterior glenoid reconstruction for unstable dislocating shoulders. Surgery to restore lost anterior glenoid bone and deep the socket with a bone graft can restore shoulder anatomy and lessen pain and improve function.
  3. Arthroplasty in Cuff Tear Arthropathy: Surgery for shoulders with a rotator cuff tear and arthritis can lessen shoulder pain and improve function with joint replacement.
  4. Atraumatic Shoulder Instability.
  5. Bankart repair for unstable dislocating shoulders: Surgery to anatomically and securely repair the torn anterior glenoid labrum and capsule without arthroscopy can lessen pain and improve function for active individuals.
  6. Basics of failed shoulder surgery, complications of shoulder surgery and revision shoulder surgery
  7. Chondrolysis
  8. Clinical Presentation and Evaluation of Glenohumeral Arthritis.
  9. Clinical Presentation of Glenohumeral Instability.
  10. Compartmental Syndromes.
  11. Diagnosis of Capsulorraphy Arthropathy.
  12. Diagnosis of the Frozen Shoulder.
  13. Evaluation of Recurrent Instability.
  14. Evaluation of the Rough Shoulder.
  15. Evaluation of the Stiff Shoulder.
  16. Evaluation of the Weak Shoulder.
  17. Examination Under Anesthesia.
  18. Failed Shoulder Replacement and Revision.
  19. Glenohumeral Arthritis References.
  20. Home Exercises for the Rough Shoulder.
  21. Home Exercises for Stiff Shoulder
  22. Home Exercises for the Unstable Shoulder.
  23. Home Exercises for the Weak Shoulder.
  24. Humeroscapular Positions and Motion.
  25. Humerothoracic Positions and Motion.
  26. Injuries Associated with Anterior Dislocations.
  27. Intermediate Shoulder Instability.
  28. Management of Glenohumeral Arthritis.
  29. Mechanics of Glenohumeral Arthritis.
  30. Mechanics of Glenohumeral Arthroplasty.
  31. Mechanics of Glenohumeral Instability.
  32. Mechanics of Shoulder Strength.
  33. More Information on Rotator Cuff Surgery.
  34. Posterior glenoid osteoplasty for unstable dislocating shoulders. Surgery to build up the back of the glenoid socket using an osteotomy and graft can restore shoulder anatomy and lessen pain and improve function.
  35. Ream and Run for Shoulder Arthritis: Conservative Reconstructive Surgery for Selected Individuals Desiring Higher Levels of Activity than Recommended for Traditional Total Shoulder Joint Replacement
  36. Ream and Run non-prosthetic glenoid arthroplasty for shoulder arthritis: Regenerative cementless surgery designed for individuals desiring higher levels of activity than recommended for traditional total joint replacement.
  37. Rehabilitation after Shoulder Arthroplasty.
  38. Rehabilitation following shoulder joint replacement arthroplasty
  39. Relevant Anatomy of Glenohumeral Instability.
  40. Repair of Rotator Cuff Tears: Surgery for shoulders with torn rotator cuff tendons can lessen shoulder pain and improve function without acromioplasty.
  41. Reverse Shoulder Replacement (Delta joint replacement) for arthritis: Surgery with a reverse prosthesis can lessen shoulder pain and improve function in shoulders with failed surgery or combined arthritis, rotator cuff tears and instability.
  42. Reverse Total Shoulder or Delta Shoulder for Shoulder Arthritis Combined with Massive Rotator Cuff Tear and for Failed Conventional Total Shoulder Replacement
  43. Rotator Cuff Clinical Presentation.
  44. Rotator Cuff Differential Diagnosis.
  45. Rotator Cuff Failure.
  46. Rotator Cuff Historical Review.
  47. Rotator Cuff Imaging Techniques.
  48. Rotator Cuff Relevant Anatomy and Mechanics.
  49. Rotator Cuff Tear: When to Repair and When to Smooth and Move the Shoulder
  50. Rotator Cuff Treatment.
  51. SF 36 and Health Status.
  52. Scapulothoracic Positions and Motion.
  53. Shoulder Arthritis
  54. Shoulder Arthritis Book
  55. Shoulder and Elbow Cases to Consider.
  56. Shoulder arthritis and rotator cuff tears: The combination of arthritis and rotator cuff tears is called rotator cuff tear arthropathy. The management of this condition requires thought and experience.
  57. Shoulder arthritis: Osteoarthritis, Chondrolysis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Degenerative joint disease, and arthritis after shoulder surgery.
  58. Shoulder joint replacement arthroplasty for shoulder arthritis pain and stiffness: two options: total shoulder and ream and run
  59. Shoulder osteoarthritis, chondrolysis, rheumatoid arthritis, degenerative joint disease, and arthritis after shoulder arthroscopy and open surgery
  60. Simple Shoulder Test.
  61. Subacromial Smoothing.
  62. Surface replacement for shoulder arthritis: Surgery with a CAP, a special type of conservative resurfacing joint replacement that resurfaces the ball of the ball and socket joint, can lessen pain and improve function.
  63. Surgery for Atraumatic Instability of the Shoulder.
  64. Surgical release for stiff frozen shoulders: Surgery to remove scar tissue and release contractures can lessen pain and improve function for stiff shoulders that have not responded to rehabilitation or physical therapy.
  65. Total Shoulder Replacement Arthroplasty for Shoulder Arthritis
  66. Total elbow joint replacement for elbow arthritis: Surgery with a dependable, time-tested prosthesis can lessen pain and improve function in elbows, especially in rheumatoid arthritis of the elbow
  67. Total shoulder joint replacement for shoulder arthritis: Surgery with a dependable, time-tested conservative prosthesis and accelerated rehabilitation can lessen pain and improve function in shoulders with arthritis.
  68. Traumatic Shoulder Instability.
  69. Treating Shoulder Dislocation / Subluxation (Instability) and Associated Pain with Minimally Invasive Arthroscopy
  70. Treatment of Recurrent Instability.
  71. Types of Glenohumeral Instability.