Shoulder Injury Prevention Exercises

by Patrick Dale Google

About Patrick Dale

Patrick Dale is an experienced writer who has written for a plethora of international publications. A lecturer and trainer of trainers, he is a contributor to "Ultra-FIT" magazine and has been involved in fitness for more than 22 years. He authored the books "Military Fitness", "Live Long, Live Strong" and "No Gym? No Problem!" and served in the Royal Marines for five years.


Your shoulder joint consists of your humerus and scapula and is a ball and socket joint. It is a complex and highly mobile joint that is capable of a wide range of movements. This mobility comes at the cost of reduced joint stability and a propensity for injury. Keeping your shoulders in good shape can reduce your likelihood of suffering from shoulder problems.

Common Injuries

There are a number of injuries and conditions common to the shoulder that can be avoided or at least the risk of suffering them can be minimized by performing specific exercises. The head of the humerus can become separated from the socket of the scapula resulting in a dislocation. Soft tissues such as tendons or muscles can become trapped within the structure of the shoulder -- a painful condition called impingement syndrome. The shoulder can also become “frozen” and lose mobility in a condition called adhesive capsulitis. If you suspect that you are suffering from any serious shoulder injury, you should seek medical attention.

Mobility Exercises

Like all the joints in your body, your shoulders can stiffen up if you don’t use them regularly. This is often the case if you lead a sedentary lifestyle. To keep your shoulders loose and mobile, you should perform mobility exercises. Shoulder shrugs, rolling your shoulders backward and forward and circling your arms are all examples of shoulder mobility exercises. Mobility exercises can be performed daily.

Flexibility Exercises

There are a large number of muscles that cross your shoulder joint including your pectoralis major or chest muscles, your deltoids or shoulder muscles and your latissimus dorsi or side-back muscles. If any of these muscles become overly tight they can pull your shoulder out of alignment and increase your risk of shoulder injury. Keep these muscles from tightening up by stretching regularly. Hold a variety of chest, shoulder and upper back stretches for 30 to 60 seconds after you have performed your mobility exercises to warm up the joint.

Strengthening Exercises

Strong shoulder muscles are less prone to injury than weak ones. To strengthen your shoulders, especially the deep rotator cuff muscles, perform medial and lateral rotations using an exercise band. To perform lateral rotations, bend your arms and tuck your elbows into your sides. Hold an elastic exercise band in your hands. Rotate your arms outwards while keeping your elbows tucked into your sides. To perform lateral rotations, anchor an exercise band to a door handle or similar. Stand side-on to the door handle and hold the band in the hand nearest to the door. Keep your elbow tucked into your side and rotate your arm in towards and across the midline of your body.

Stability Exercises

Stability describes your ability to hold your joints in good alignment. Shoulder stability is essential for minimizing injury. Instable shoulder joints, due either to joint laxity or weakness, are more prone to injury. To improve your shoulder joint stability perform pushups with your hands on a stability ball, lie on a stability ball when performing dumbbell bench presses and choose free weights exercises over resistance machines. Any exercise that causes your shoulders to “wobble” as you move will enhance shoulder stability.

References (5)

  • The Anatomy of Sports Injuries; Brad Walker
  • Super Joints: Russian Longevity Secrets for Pain-Free Movement, Maximum Mobility & Flexible Strength; Pavel Tsatsouline
  • Stretching; Bob Anderson and Jean Anderson
  • The Resistance Band Workout Book; Ed McNeely
  • Strength Ball Training-2nd Edition; Lorne Goldenberg and Peter Twist

Photo Credits:

  • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or