Basics of Shoulder Injury Prevention and Rehab

Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent a shoulder injury or improve your chances of coming back strong if you sustain one.

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

The shoulder is the most mobile, yet most vulnerable joint in the body. It relies on muscles and connective tissue for support in order to achieve a large range of motion.

Unfortunately for athletes, the shoulder is often overused from repeatedly throwing or swinging. When this happens, you are at risk of an injury to your rotator cuff or labrum if you don't have sufficient muscle strength to support the joint.

A shoulder injury is typically accompanied by a sharp pain during movement. It can gradually worsen over time, or occur instantly. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to prevent a shoulder injury, or improve your chance of coming back fully if you sustain one. (Learn more about shoulder stability.)


It's important to strengthen the shoulder muscles on a regular basis to prevent injuries. Exercises such as the Y,L,T,W increase strength in the four rotator cuff muscles. Other exercises like Dumbbell Shoulder Presses, Shrugs and even Push-Ups help build the larger muscles that protect the shoulder. Finally, you must perform back rowing exercises to strengthen the muscles that support the scapula, critical for overall shoulder stability. (Learn how to keep your shoulders healthy.)


The following shoulder exercises are commonly part of the rehab process following a shoulder injury or surgery. They should be performed under the direction and supervision of a physician, physical therapist, and/or strength and conditioning professional, to ensure proper exercise selection, technique and safety.

Pendulum Exercises

Bend forward at the waist with slightly bent knees so that your upper body is almost parallel to the ground. Allow your arms to hang down vertically toward the ground while holding a dumbbell. Make small circles so that momentum carries your arm.

Shoulder Front Raises

Hold dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms down. Lift your arms in front until they are parallel to the ground. Lower dumbbells and repeat.

Shoulder Lateral Raises

Hold dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing in. Lift your arms to the sides until they are parallel to the ground; keep your arms straight. Lower dumbbells and repeat.

Shoulder Scap Raises

Hold dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing in. Lift arms at 45-degree angle until parallel to the ground. Lower dumbbells and repeat.


Hold dumbbells with straight arms at your sides. Shrug shoulders, hold for a second. Relax shoulders and repeat.

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