Many common shoulder problems show up, at least in part, as tightness or limitations in the range of motion.
If you have “frozen shoulder,” for instance, your shoulder motion is greatly restricted overall. Alternatively, if you have injury or inflammation of your rotator cuff tendons, your range of motion can be limited by twinges of pain at specific angles.
Oftentimes, a rehab program for these problems tries first to free up the range of motion. Stretches and mobilizing exercises become the initial priority. It seems logical to get your joints to work freely first before you worry about strengthening the muscles that operate them.
But I think this approach is backward.
That’s because for the shoulder joint to work properly, you need two things:
- you have to control the alignment of the shoulder blade – this requires proper activation of the scapula stabilizing muscles, and
- you have to be able to keep the arm bone centered in the shoulder socket as you move your arm – this requires proper activation of the rotator cuff muscles.
That’s why I typically start a shoulder rehab program with isometric stabilizing exercises for the shoulder blade and for the arm bone-shoulder socket relationship.
Need more info? Call me at 212-400-9663 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can help you develop an effective rehab program.