Exercises for Torn Shoulder Labrum

Little League Baseball Close Up at night
Baseball pitchers are at risk of labral tears. (Image: EHStock/iStock/Getty Images)

Shoulder injuries can put a damper on your daily activities. This ball and socket joint moves more than any other joint in the body, but the trade off is a higher risk of injury.

The labrum adds some support to the shoulder by forming a ring around the socket. Labral injuries can occur with trauma such as a fall or it can break down over time with repeated activities that require reaching overhead. Exercising too soon after a labral tear can make your injury worse, so be sure to check with your doctor before attempting any exercise.

man having shoulder pain on blue background
Shoulder stretches help decrease pain after labral tears. (Image: saknakorn/iStock/Getty Images)

Sleeper Stretch

People with labral tears often have tightness in the back of the shoulder. The sleeper stretch improves flexibility in this area.

Step 1

To stretch your right shoulder, first lie on your back. Slide your right arm out to the side to 90 degrees -- shoulder height. Keeping your arm in this position, roll onto your right shoulder. Bend your elbow to 90 degrees. This is the starting position for the sleeper stretch.

Step 2

Using your left hand, slowly press your right forearm down toward the surface you are lying on until you feel a strong pull or stretch in your right shoulder. Do not stretch to the point of pain.

Step 3

Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, then relax. Repeat three times.

Young woman is undergoing morning exercise. She is sitting and stretching arms behind back. Lady is looking at window and enjoying urban view
It is often difficult to reach behind your back after a labral tear. (Image: YakobchukOlena/iStock/Getty Images)

Internal Rotation Stretch

The internal rotation stretch improves your ability to tuck in your shirt and wash your back. Perform this stretch with household items such as a broomstick or towel.

Step 1

Hold the stick behind your back with one end in each hand. Slowly pull the stick with your unaffected hand until you feel a stretch in the opposite shoulder, without pain.

Step 2

Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, then relax. Repeat three times.

Green dumbbell
Shoulder strengthening can be performed with dumbbells or household items such as a water bottle. (Image: seb_ra/iStock/Getty Images)

Strengthening Exercises

Once the labrum is torn, the shoulder isn't as stable as it was before your injury. Strengthening muscles around your shoulder will help keep the ball in the socket when you move your arm.

External Rotation

External rotation exercises strengthen muscles that rotate your arm away from your body.

Step 1

Hold a dumbbell in your hand and lie on your unaffected side. Bend your top elbow to 90 degrees.

Step 2

Keeping your upper arm next to your side, slowly rotate your forearm up toward the ceiling as far as possible. Hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds.

Step 3

Slowly lower your forearm back down to your belly. Repeat 10 times and work up to three sets in a row.

Internal Rotation

Strengthening muscles that perform internal rotation improves your ability to reach behind your back. Perform this exercise first while lying down until your strength improves.

Step 1

Lie on your affected side with a dumbbell in your hand. Raise your arm until it is perpendicular to your body.

Step 2

Bend your elbow to 90 degrees and lower your forearm backward until it is resting on the ground. This is your starting position.

Step 3

Keeping your upper arm in contact with the ground, slowly rotate your forearm up until your hand is pointed toward the ceiling. Hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds, then slowly lower back down to the starting position.

Step 4

Repeat 10 times and work up to three sets in a row.

Man performing shoulders workout at the gym
As your strength improves, you can progress to standing lateral raises. (Image: Creative-Family/iStock/Getty Images)

Abduction

Abduction exercises improve your ability to lift your arm out to the side.

Step 1

Hold a dumbbell in your hand and lie on your unaffected side. Keep your top elbow straight.

Step 2

Slowly lift your arm up until your hand is pointed toward the ceiling. Hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds, then slowly lower your arm back down to your side.

Step 3

Repeat 10 times, working up to three sets.

Fitness class lying on front on fitness balls at gym, mature instructor in the centre.
Lie on an exercise ball to make rowing exercises more difficult. (Image: Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images)

Rows

Strengthening muscles that attach to your shoulder blade will help shoulder function after a labral tear. Rows can initially be performed while lying on your stomach until you master the technique.

Step 1

Grasp the dumbbell and lie on your stomach with your affected arm hanging off the edge of the table.

Step 2

Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Allow your elbow to bend and lift it straight up toward the ceiling as far as possible. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then slowly lower back down to the starting position.

Step 3

Repeat 10 times and work up to three sets in a row.

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