Shoulder Strength and Stability

Feb7th 2018

Jason Dooly, Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant

Winter is here, the holidays are over, and the kids are back in school.  Over the holiday break we were blessed with a few days of snow.  By a show of hands, how many went out and enjoyed it with a friendly snowball fight? …………  By the lack of hands showing, I’m guessing a few of you might have “thrown out” your shoulder.

Whether you are a weekend warrior, have been an overhead athlete for years, or are just someone with shoulder pain, shoulder strength and stability are important.   Treatment options for shoulder injuries vary with severity of the issue. More often than not, surgery is not required. Often, injuries can be treated with non-operative methods like anti-inflammatory medicines, occasional cortisone injections and physical therapy. Reducing inflammation in the shoulder while building up strength of the rotator cuff muscles with specific exercises typically reduces shoulder pain.

It’s always best to start with a warm up to loosen up the muscles. Arm circles forward and backwards, swinging your arms across your body (think Michael Phelps before he swims), or if you’re in the gym hop on the arm bike.  Below are some exercises that I have used over the years with my overhead athletes or anyone with shoulder issues.


Standing (keep shoulders “down and back”, and lift arms only to shoulder height)
*Flexion: lift arms straight up in front of you with thumbs up.

*Scaption (a): lift arms up and out at 45° angle with thumbs up.

Lying face down on a Stability ball-
*Extension: start with palm down, and lift arm back to hip height (at the top, palm should be facing the floor)

*Abduction: lift arm straight out to the side to body height (at the top, palm should be facing the floor)

*Scaption: lift arm up at 45° angle, with thumbs up.

*External Rotation: lying on uninvolved (“good”) side, rest involved side-elbow at side, bent to 90° , lift wrist up toward ceiling, squeezing shoulder blade back behind you

***All Pitchers 6 exercises should be performed with same repetitions, and should be progressed as follows (within tolerance).

Day 1- 30 reps; Day 2- 45 reps; Day 3- 1 lb 30 reps; Day 4- 1 lb 45 reps; Day 5- 2 lb 30 reps; etc until you reach 45 reps at 3lbs

Do not go on to the next progression until you can complete the set with good form.

If you continue to have problems, come in and see us at Rocky Mountain PT at one of our 5 outpatient locations across Northern Colorado.