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Shoulder Stabilization Exercises

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Updated February 28, 2013

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Shoulder Scapular Stabilization Exercises
The prone row is a great scapular stabilization exercise.

Lie on your stomach and slowly bend your elbow while pinching your shoulder blade back.

Brett Sears, PT, 2011

If you have shoulder pain, you may be referred to a physical therapist to help you control your pain and improve your shoulder mobility. Your physical therapist will work closely with you to help you return to normal functional mobility and to regain normal use of your arm and shoulder.

Your physical therapist may use different treatments and modalities to help treat your shoulder condition. One of the best treatments for your shoulder is exercise. Your physical therapist can assess your particular shoulder condition and prescribe the right exercises for you.

Some types of exercises for your shoulder include:

In this step-by-step guide, you can learn how to perform several scapular stabilization exercises. The scapula, or shoulder blade, is the triangular shaped bone on each side of your upper back. The socket of the shoulder joint is a part of the scapula.

If you injure your shoulder, you may notice that it is difficult to properly use your arm, and sometimes you may start using your shoulder blade to help move your arm. This can cause poor habits that may continue to limit normal use of your arm long after your shoulder injury has healed. If this is the case, your physical therapist may prescribe scapular stabilization exercises to help you regain normal control and use of your shoulder.

Common problems that may cause improper use of the shoulder blade and that may require scapular stabilization exercise include, but are not limited to:

Before starting these or any other shoulder exercises, it is best to consult your doctor or physical therapist to be certain that exercising is safe for you to do.

The first scapular stabilization exercise is the prone row. You perform this by lying on your stomach on a bed. Slide to one side of the bed so that your arm is hanging straight down. Then, slowly bend your elbow and lift your hand towards your armpit. The motion should feel like you are pulling on a rope to start a lawn mower.

As you raise your arm, your shoulder blade should slowly move backwards and up. When your hand is almost to your armpit, hold this position for one or two seconds, and then slowly lower back down to the starting position. Repeat this motion for 8 to 15 repetitions.

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