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People are frequently instructed to perform shoulder strengthening exercises after an injury to regain flexibility, motion and muscle mass. Some mild shoulder problems, such as a strain, dislocation, bursitis, tendinitis, or shoulder impingement can be treated at home through a series of light stretching and strengthening exercises. Anyone with a more severe shoulder problem, such as a torn ligament or damaged bone, may need to undergo surgery followed by several weeks of rehabilitation at a hospital or physical therapy clinic. Physical therapists provide detailed, custom shoulder strengthening exercises to promote quick recoveries and allow individuals to once again enjoy their favorite activities.
Injuries that result in inflammation and swelling can limit a person's range of motion and strength significantly, and shoulder exercises are not typically possible until swelling subsides. Following an injury, a doctor usually recommends that an individual rest his or her arm for a few days until it has a chance to begin healing, then engage in light stretching and shoulder strengthening exercises. Common methods for shoulder strengthening include pendulum-motion exercises and repetitively raising the arm overhead.
Pendulum-motion exercises are very low-impact techniques to help regain flexibility and strength. A person usually sits or stands with his or her arm hanging freely. He or she then begins to swing the arm subtly back and forth, and side to side, without resisting the motion. The shoulder muscles are stretched and flexibility begins to return within a few days of exercise. Another popular shoulder strengthening method involves repetitively, slowly raising the arm above the head to increase the range of motion in successive steps. After several repetitions, it is usually possible to move the arm much further than at the beginning of the exercise. Combining periods of rest with periods of light exercise can shorten the healing time of injuries and promote a full return to normal shoulder functioning.
Following a surgery to repair damaged ligaments or tissue, more intensive shoulder strengthening exercises are needed. A physical therapist typically designs a specialized program geared at a patient's injury, capabilities, and goals. The therapist might incorporate weights or resistance training techniques to help a person rebuild muscle strength. It is common for therapists to introduce weights to pendulum-motion and arm lifting exercises, and use elastic bands to provide resistance when the patient moves his or her shoulder. Rehabilitation may also involve water resistance in a swimming pool or throwing a ball near the end of a physical therapy program.