Exercises for Shoulder Popping

Asian healthy girl got shoulder pain with dumbbell  isolated on white background.
Shoulder popping can be caused by weak muscles. (Image: halfbottle/iStock/Getty Images)

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.

Athletic Hispanic young man exercising his shoulders and doing side raises with a pair of dumbbells at home
Use household items such as water bottles if you don't own dumbbells. (Image: Antonio_Diaz/iStock/Getty Images)

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.

Step 1

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.

Step 2

Position your arms halfway between straight-ahead and straight out to the side -- approximately 45 degrees. Turn your thumbs down toward the ground.

Step 3

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.

young fit women working out with rubber band over white background
Exercise bands are available in many levels of resistance. (Image: VSanandhakrishna/iStock/Getty Images)

Inward Rotations

Shoulder rotation exercises can be performed with an elastic exercise band.

Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

Perform this movement 10 times, working up to three sets in a row.

Outward Rotations

Step 1

Turn your chair around so that your band is at your opposite side. Grasp the band in the same hand used for inward rotations.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

Pretty young Hispanic woman lifting weights and working out at home
Keep your back straight while performing shoulder exercises. (Image: Antonio_Diaz/iStock/Getty Images)

Front Lifts

Perform front lifts while standing or sitting, but be sure to keep your back straight throughout the movement.

Step 1

Hold one dumbbell in each hand and rest your arms at your sides. Keeping your elbow straight, lift one arm up to shoulder-height.

Step 2

Hold for 2 to 3 seconds and slowly lower back down. Perform on the opposite side.

Step 3

Alternate arms and lift the weights 10 times. Work up to three sets.

Cape Town, South Africa
Perform shoulder exercises without weights until you perfect your form. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)


Extensions help strengthen muscles that pull your arms back behind you.

Step 1

Lie on your stomach. Hold a dumbbell in your hand and dangle your arm off the side of the surface you are lying on.

Step 2

Keeping your elbow straight, lift your arm up backward until it is level with your body.

Step 3

Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then slowly lower your arm back down. Repeat 10 times, up to three times in a row.

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