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At-Home Rehabilitation Exercises for a Deltoid Injury

by  GEORGE W. CITRONER
author image George W. Citroner
George Citroner is a medical and health journalist. His work has appeared in over 50 publications and covers a broad range of medical, health, and fitness topics.
At-Home Rehabilitation Exercises for a Deltoid Injury
Injured deltoid muscles can be rehabilitated at home. Photo Credit: fizkes/iStock/GettyImages

As many people may know from experience, a shoulder injury can be painful and debilitating. Deltoid injuries most often happen to people who repeatedly move their arms overhead due to job duties or playing sports.

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Individuals at risk of deltoid injuries can include factory workers, auto mechanics, swimmers, tennis players and people who lift weights. The deltoids are composed of three heads: the anterior (front), the medial (middle) head, and the posterior (rear) head. Each one acts to allow an arm to move to the front, rear or side.

If you injure your deltoid, it might be painful to move your shoulder or lie on the affected side. When you want relief, at-home therapy is key. According to research published in the February 2014 issue of Muscles, Ligaments and Tendons Journal, it’s possible to recover more quickly from an injury by doing rehabilitation exercises that can improve the flexibility and strength of the injured muscle.

Perform some of these shoulder rehab exercises at home to speed recovery and facilitate a return to normal activities as soon as possible.

1. External Shoulder Rotation

External shoulder rotations isolate the medial and the posterior deltoid muscles. These two muscles are crucial for keeping the head of the humerus (arm bone) stable in the joint socket. Practicing external rotations with the elbow held next to the waist is a way to strengthen both muscles.

HOW TO DO IT: Begin by laying on one side with the legs staggered for better stability. Hold the dumbbell and place an elbow against the hip with the forearm held across the stomach. Lift the dumbbell off the ground by rotating the shoulder and lifting the forearm off the stomach. Bring the dumbbell slowly to the ground and repeat.

Alternatively, perform the exercise using a resistance band by securing one end of the band to a stable surface and repeating the same movement.

Read more: How to Work Out Your Deltoids

2. Internal Shoulder Rotations

This rehab exercise will rehab the anterior (front) deltoid muscle and — as the name implies — it's the opposite movement of external shoulder rotations.

HOW TO DO IT: Perform this movement by grasping the dumbbell in the hand of the affected arm. Place the elbow and upper arm close to the body with the elbow bent at about 90 degrees and the dumbbell on the floor. Lift the dumbbell up by rotating the shoulder joint until forearm touches the body. Slowly lower the weigh to the floor and repeat.

As with external shoulder rotations, this movement can be done while standing using an elastic band secured to a stable surface.

3. Lateral Raises

This exercise can be done with light weight or resistance bands for multiple reps to improve blood flow to all three heads of the deltoid muscle and speed healing.

HOW TO DO IT: Stand while holding dumbbells in front of the legs with both palms facing each other. Leaning over slightly, raise both dumbbells to the side until hands are at shoulder level with palms facing down. Return to start position and repeat.

Read more: What Muscles Do Dumbbell Lateral Raises Work?

4. Alternating Front Raises

Alternating dumbbell or elastic band front raises begin in the same position as dumbbell lateral raises and is especially useful when the anterior or medial deltoid needs rehabilitation.

HOW TO DO IT: Turn the palms to face the body and lift one extended arm to shoulder height. Return to the start position. Lift the opposite extended arm to shoulder height.

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