By Tom Fontana, MSPT
In your mind’s eye, if I ask you to picture something that a shoulder does, you’d probably envision something such as reaching, lifting or throwing. What is underappreciated is how many things your shoulder does where the hand/arm is planted and the
shoulder helps move your body (think pushing off the armrests of a chair, repositioning your body in bed, helping you get off the ground, or push-ups, just to name a few). Many diagnoses of the shoulder involve an instability of some sort (loose ligaments, compromised labrum or muscle weakness) that can lead to joint pain or soft-tissue compromise. Good, preventative exercises include some familiar friends: push-ups (on a wall, on the edge of a vanity/sturdy table, or on the ground) or seated chair push-ups (pushing your hands down on the armrests or seat of a chair to lift your rear end. A more complicated exercise to describe is standing facing a wall with your body weight leaning forward onto an outstretched arm on a ball (such as a soccer ball, volleyball or kids bouncy ball). While supporting your body weight, move the ball up and down, and side to side ten times.
All three can really be a workout and because you’re supporting your body weight and could lose your balance in any direction, you are having to really work to keep your arm stable.