How to Rehab Shoulder Injuries with Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are a staple in physical therapy and with good reason. The lightweight bands don’t rely on gravity to create tension, can target specific areas of the body, and are relatively easy to control. If you’re prone to shoulder pain or you’re dealing with shoulder injuries, a resistance band could be your new best friend. Shoulder pain, in particular, shouldn’t be ignored. Not only does it limit your mobility, but it could be a cause of arthritis, a tear in the rotator cuff or labrum, or general instability.

Physical rehabilitation for shoulder pain aims to improve your range of motion as well as decrease pain. A typical physical therapist will work with ice or heat depending up on the stage of injury. Once you have progressed past the initial phase of rehabilitation, you may want to consider the use of resistance bands to help strengthen the area. Specific exercises with resistance bands can help you regain normal range of motion, especially after an injury. By creating tension, resistance bands strengthen both muscles and the attachment of tendons to bones. The exercises below especially aid in strengthening the shoulder and rotator cuff muscles.

Before starting any of these exercises, consult first with your physical therapist to ensure you are ready to proceed with resistance bands as well as to check that you’re using the correct bands. Resistance bands come in a variety of lengths as well as resistance. Additionally, if you experience any extreme pain or aches, swelling, difficulty raising your arms over your head or sleeping on your arm, stop the exercises and see your medical practitioner.

Shoulder Flexion

  1. Get into the starting position by standing upright with the resistance band under your left foot.
  2. Take hold of the band with your left hand and lift it in front of you. Keep your arm straight and your thumb pointing upward.
  3. Slowly lower back to the starting position. Repeat and switch to the other side.

Shoulder External Rotation

  1. Secure the band by tying it to a stable object at approximately hip height, like a doorknob or a bar.
  2. Get into the starting position by standing side on to the anchor point and grasp the band with your hand furthest from the anchor point. Stand at a distance that creates some tension in the band.
  3. Place your elbow by your side with your forearm extended at 90 degrees in front of you.
  4. Slowly rotate your arm to the side (away from the anchor point) whilst keeping your elbow close to the side of your body. Your hand should reach no further than slightly past your hip. Hold this position for 1-2 seconds.
  5. Slowly return to the starting position. Do 10 to 15 reps and switch to the other side.

Shoulder Internal Rotation

  1. Secure the band by tying it to a stable object at approximately hip height, like a doorknob or a bar.
  2. Get into the starting position by standing side on to the anchor point and grasp the band with your hand closest to the anchor point. Stand at a distance that creates some tension in the band.
  3. Place your elbow by your side with your forearm extended at 90 degrees toward the anchor point.
  4. Slowly rotate your arm to a position in front of you (away from the anchor point) whilst keeping your elbow close to the side of your body. Hold this position for 1-2 seconds.
  5. Slowly return to the starting position. Do 10 to 15 reps and switch to the other side.

Shoulder Abduction

  1. Secure the band by tying it to a stable object at approximately shoulder height.
  2. Get into the starting position by standing side on to the anchor point and grasp the band with your hand furthest from the anchor point. Stand at a distance that creates some tension in the band.
  3. Slowly lift your arm out to the side until it’s parallel to the floor. Keep your arm in line with your body.
  4. Slowly lower your arm to the starting position. Do 10 to 15 reps and switch to the other side.

Wall Crawl

  1. Loop the resistance band around your forearms at a length that creates tension in the resistance band.
  2. Get into the starting position by leaning against a wall with your forearms shoulder-width apart and elbows bent at 90 degrees and your hands at around chin level.
  3. Crawl your forearms up the wall until your elbows are at approximately chin level.
  4. Crawl back down to the starting position and then repeat 10-15 times.

Sources: https://www.setforset.com/blogs/news/7-rotator-cuff-resistance-bands-exercises-for-rehab-prehab-and-strengthening

https://www.verywellhealth.com/shoulder-rotator-cuff-strengthening-exercises-2696618