How to Strengthen & Stretch for an AC Shoulder Injury

Your AC joint, technically called your acromioclavicular joint, is found in your shoulder where your scapula and clavicle meet. The AC joint can be damaged through a chronic condition such as arthritis, but in most cases injury is due to separation of the joint. AC separation is rated on a grading system. A grade one separation is when the ligaments are stretched but not torn. A grade two separation is when one ligament is torn and one is not. A grade three separation is when both ligaments are torn and the clavicle is completely separated. Surgery may be required with some separations.

An AC joint injury can cause pain and loss of mobility in your shoulder.
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Range of Motion

Step 1

Relax your shoulder as best you can, and let your arm rest alongside your body as you are seated or standing. Swing your arm back and forth and side to side slowly, then make small circles in either direction. Add 1 to 2 pounds of weight to the exercise in each consecutive week.

Step 2

Stand with your arms at your sides. Keep elbows straight and raise your arms straight back behind you. Hold for a five count and repeat 10 times.

Step 3

Rest your forearm on a fixed object such as a doorway. Turn your body away from the doorway slowly to feel a stretch in the front of your chest.


Step 1

Lie on your back with your arms straight out to your sides and palms facing up. Squeeze your shoulder blades down and toward one another. Keep your neck relaxed and don't shrug your shoulders. Hold for a five count and do 20 reps two to three times per day.

Step 2

Stand with your arms bent at 90-degree angles and your arms close to your sides. Hold a towel under your affected arm and your body to keep the elbow in tight. Hold the end of a thick rubber band in each hand, and rotate the bad arm outward, keeping the other one still. Do as many as you can without pain.

Step 3

Stand comfortably, while holding a long stick like a broom handle behind your back with palms facing away. Move your hands away from your back, while keeping your elbows straight. Hold for five then relax, and do it 10 times.

Things You'll Need

  • Towel

  • Broom handle

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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