Shoulder Instability: Exercises

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Your Care Instructions

Here are some examples of typical rehabilitation exercises for your condition. Start each exercise slowly. Ease off the exercise if you start to have pain.

Your doctor or physiotherapist will tell you when you can start these exercises and which ones will work best for you.

How to do the exercises

Shoulder flexion (lying down)

Shoulder flexion exercise while lying down
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slide 1 of 5, Shoulder flexion (lying down),

Note: To make a wand, use a piece of PVC pipe or a broom handle with the broom removed. Make the wand about 30 centimetres wider than your shoulders.

  1. Lie on your back, holding a wand with both hands. Your palms should face down as you hold the wand.
  2. Keeping your elbows straight, slowly raise your arms over your head. Raise them until you feel a stretch in your shoulders, upper back, and chest.
  3. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Shoulder blade squeeze

Shoulder blade squeeze exercise
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slide 2 of 5, Shoulder blade squeeze,
  1. Stand with your arms at your sides, and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Do not raise your shoulders up as you squeeze.
  2. Hold for 6 seconds.
  3. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Resisted rows

Picture of resisted rows exercise
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slide 3 of 5, Resisted rows,

Note: For this exercise, you will need elastic exercise material, such as surgical tubing or Thera-Band.

  1. Put the band around a solid object at about waist level. (A bedpost will work well.) Each hand should hold an end of the band.
  2. With your elbows at your sides and bent to 90 degrees, pull the band back. Your shoulder blades should move toward each other. Return to the starting position.
  3. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Internal rotator strengthening exercise

Internal rotator strengthening exercise
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slide 4 of 5, Internal rotator strengthening exercise,
  1. Start by tying a piece of elastic exercise material to a doorknob. You can use surgical tubing or Thera-Band.
  2. Stand or sit with your shoulder relaxed and your elbow bent 90 degrees. Your upper arm should rest comfortably against your side. Squeeze a rolled towel between your elbow and your body for comfort. This will help keep your arm at your side.
  3. Hold one end of the elastic band in the hand of the painful arm.
  4. Slowly rotate your forearm toward your body until it touches your belly. Slowly move it back to where you started.
  5. Keep your elbow and upper arm firmly tucked against the towel roll or at your side.
  6. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

External rotator strengthening exercise

External rotator strengthening exercise
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slide 5 of 5, External rotator strengthening exercise,
  1. Start by tying a piece of elastic exercise material to a doorknob. You can use surgical tubing or Thera-Band. (You may also hold one end of the band in each hand.)
  2. Stand or sit with your shoulder relaxed and your elbow bent 90 degrees. Your upper arm should rest comfortably against your side. Squeeze a rolled towel between your elbow and your body for comfort. This will help keep your arm at your side.
  3. Hold one end of the elastic band with the hand of the painful arm.
  4. Start with your forearm across your belly. Slowly rotate the forearm out away from your body. Keep your elbow and upper arm tucked against the towel roll or the side of your body until you begin to feel tightness in your shoulder. Slowly move your arm back to where you started.
  5. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: March 21, 2017