Your shoulder moves more than any other joint in your body, and it's also frequently injured. Shoulder popping can be caused by weak muscles that hold the ball of your shoulder in the socket as you move. Because shoulder popping can also be a sign of a torn muscle or ligament, see a doctor before performing strengthening exercises.
Empty Can Exercise
The empty can exercise -- named for your arm position during the movement -- targets the muscle that moves your arm out to the side and holds the ball of your shoulder in the socket.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold one dumbbell in each hand. Straighten your elbows and lift both arms up to be parallel to the floor.
Position your arms halfway between straight-ahead and straight out to the side -- approximately 45 degrees. Turn your thumbs down toward the ground.
Slowly lower your arms down to your sides, then lift back up. Do not allow your shoulders to shrug up toward your ears during this exercise. Perform this movement 10 times.
If you have pain with your thumbs pointed down, try this exercise with your thumbs pointed toward the ceiling.
Shoulder rotation exercises can be performed with an elastic exercise band.
Secure one end of the exercise band at the top of a table leg. Sit with the band on the side you want to exercise and hold the opposite end of the band in your hand.
Bend your elbow to 90 degrees. Keeping your upper arm against your side, pull the band in toward your body as far as possible. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then slowly bring your arm back to the starting position.
Perform this movement 10 times, working up to three sets in a row.
Turn your chair around so that your band is at your opposite side. Grasp the band in the same hand used for inward rotations.
Bend your elbow to 90 degrees and keep your upper arm close to your side throughout the exercise. Slowly rotate your forearm away from your body, as far as possible.
Hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times, working up to three sets in a row.
Perform front lifts while standing or sitting, but be sure to keep your back straight throughout the movement.
Hold one dumbbell in each hand and rest your arms at your sides. Keeping your elbow straight, lift one arm up to shoulder-height.
Hold for 2 to 3 seconds and slowly lower back down. Perform on the opposite side.
Alternate arms and lift the weights 10 times. Work up to three sets.
Extensions help strengthen muscles that pull your arms back behind you.
Lie on your stomach. Hold a dumbbell in your hand and dangle your arm off the side of the surface you are lying on.
Keeping your elbow straight, lift your arm up backward until it is level with your body.
Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then slowly lower your arm back down. Repeat 10 times, up to three times in a row.
- University of Washington: Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine: Home Exercises for the Unstable Shoulder
- Palo Alto Medical Foundation: Shoulder Instability
- Shoulder & Elbow: The Clinical Physiotherapy Assessment of Non-Traumatic Shoulder Instability
- Trials: Progressive High-Load Strength Training Compared with General Low-Load Exercises in Patients with Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy: Study Protocol for a Randomised Controlled Trial