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April 14, 2015

Protect your shoulder from painful injuries

Orthopaedic surgeons offer exercises to help strengthen shoulder joints

ROSEMONT, Ill.—Your shoulder is the most flexible joint in your body. It allows you to place and rotate your arm in many positions; however, this flexibility makes it more susceptible to instability and injury.

Heavy lifting, household chores or sports may cause injuries to the shoulder muscles, ligaments or tendons, sometimes taking months to heal and limiting a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks.

In 2010, approximately 16 million people went to the doctors’ office for a shoulder problem. Of these visits, more than 2.7 million had a diagnosis of sprains and strains of the shoulder and upper arm.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) encourages the public to take steps to protect their shoulder joint.

“Strengthening and stretching the muscles that support your shoulder joint can keep it stable and restore range of motion to help reduce the risk of injuries,” said AAOS spokesperson and orthopaedic surgeon Brent Ponce, MD, who specializes in treating shoulder injuries. “If you suspect unusual pain in the joint, do not ignore it. Seek professional care to avoid further damage.”

Exercises to help strengthen the shoulder muscles include:
  • Basic shoulder strengthening
    Attach a stretch band to a doorknob at home. Gently pull the band toward your body. Hold for a count of five. Repeat five times with each arm.
  • Wall push-ups
    Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall and your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly perform a push-up. Repeat five times. Hold for a count of five.
  • Upper back/ shoulder blade exercise
    Lie on your stomach with your arms by your sides. Gently draw your shoulder blades together and down your back as far as possible. Ease about halfway off from this position and hold for 10 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times.

More extensive exercises and illustrations are available on the AAOS rotator cuff and shoulder conditioning guide.

Orthopaedic surgeons restore mobility and reduce pain; they help people get back to work and to independent, productive lives. Visit to read successful orthopaedic stories. is your source for bone and joint health news, stats, facts, images and spokesperson interview requests. 
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About the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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AAOS does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products, or physicians referenced herein. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, or locate one in your area through the AAOS "Find an Orthopaedist" program on this website.
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