This article looks at the 5 best exercises that help to keep your shoulders strong, resilient, functional and healthy.  The shoulder joint is a ball and shallow socket joint just like the hip – however, the hip has a very deep secure socket – meaning it keeps the joint safe and healthy. The shoulder has a shallow socket and relies heavily on the muscles and tendons in the shoulder to keep it in place and working properly. 

This is why it is vital to keep your shoulders healthy

Here are 5 exercises provided by ADM Ottawa Physiotherapy which can help benefit your shoulder health. 

Dumbbell lateral raises

One of the simplest exercises for anyone to perform. This exercise targets the smaller deltoid muscles which are the round muscles which sit on the lateral shoulder at the top of your arm and give shape to our shoulders. These muscles are important to help support a healthy shoulder and the exercise is easy to perform and can be done with weights or household objects.  The deltoid muscles are vital to assist the rotator cuff and help to protect it as they help to share the load you place through your shoulder. To perform the exercise – hold weights in your hands – and lift in abduction out to the side and raise your hands to just below shoulder height. Slowly control back to the start and repeat until tired. 

Resisted lateral rotation

This exercise helps to develop strength and effectively controls pain in an acutely sore shoulder and upper arm. It targets a portion of the rotator cuff with light resisted tension which helps to increase blood flow to the tendon and improve the function of the shoulder by encouraging it to heal. There can be some mild pulling and discomfort as you perform it, but this should reside as you continue – this does not mean there is something wrong but that it may be sensitive and weak and needs strengthening – so continue to exercise it. 

The movement is performed typically with elastic Thera band tied to a fixed point – the elbow bent at 90* and fixed to the side of the body and slowly rotate the shoulder externally. Always perform this with control and a slow pace – the longer you can do the better it is for your shoulder. This exercise can also be done as a still contraction using your other hand to block your shoulders external rotation. 

Scapula Squeezes

The shoulder blade is vital in keeping the shoulder balanced and working properly. This exercise makes the muscles work that ensures your shoulder blade stays in a good position. It is a good preventative exercise for anyone with poor posture or working at a desk. Simply squeeze your shoulder blades together for 5-10 seconds and repeat until you get an ache in the middle of your upper back.  

Elastic step and raise

This exercise maintains your shoulders strength through its full range. This exercise uses elastic bands to load up the rotator cuff which is seen as a great effective way to load the rotator cuff properly. Heavy weights can often engage larger muscle groups and the tendons aren’t worked as specifically. This exercise would be perfect for before a workout or as a weekly maintenance exercise. 

Overhead Press

The ultimate shoulder exercise! The shoulder press exercise comprehensively works all of the larger and smaller muscles in the shoulders and upper back. It translates to everyday function and makes us stronger for our daily tasks which we perform overhead. You can perform this with household items, dumbbells or a barbell. Each variation of the exercises has its own benefits but essentially has the same aim! 

Any questions about how these exercises can help keep you strong and healthy, contact Cure Physical Therapy.