8 Shoulder Labral Tear Exercises To Heal And Recover From A Shoulder Injury

Written by Charushila Biswas
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition

The labrum is a circular piece of cartilage that keeps the shoulders locked in place. A broken, torn, or frayed labrum can lead to an unstable shoulder joint that causes shoulder pain, and, in some cases, shoulder dislocation. According to Dr. Jordan Duncan, Doctor of Chiropractic, “there are various reasons a shoulder labral tear occurs. Falling on an outstretched hand is a classic example. Labral tears can also occur in overhead athletes, such as baseball pitchers. These tears are commonly SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior) lesions.”

What’s the best solution for a shoulder labral tear? Chartered Physiotherapist, Peter Keane, BSc., MSc. says, “Usually if you suffer from a labrum tear a doctor will recommend surgery followed by physical therapy. However, you can engage in some exercises prior to the surgery to aid the overall recovery. In some cases the exercises can even be enough to prevent surgery altogether.” In this post, we have listed the 8 best shoulder labral tear exercises to heal your shoulders better. Perform these exercises after consulting your doctor.

8 Best Shoulder Labral Tear Exercises

1. Internal Rotation

Steps

  • Secure a resistance band. Hold one end and sit down on a mat or a chair. Keep your forearm at 90 degrees to the upper arm, with your thumbs out. This is the starting position.
  • Place a rolled towel between your elbow and body.
  • Pull the resistance band towards your body thereby creating an internal rotation movement. Keep your elbow against the towel while performing this movement.
  • Pause for a second and move your hand back to the starting position.
  • Do this 15 times, twice a day.

2. Wall Walk Stretches

Steps

  • Stand facing a wall, about 6 inches from it.
  • Place your affected hand on the wall. This is the starting position.
  • Begin to walk your hands up the wall and hold for 20 seconds.
  • Walk back down to the starting position.
  • Repeat this 3 times, twice a day.

3. Blackburn Exercise

Steps

  • Lie on your belly on a mat or a bench.
  • Keep your arms extended out to your sides, palms facing down.
  • Squeeze the shoulder blades together and lift the arms up without bending the elbows.
  • Count to 5 and relax.
  • Do this 15 times, twice a day.

4. Rotator Cuff Strengthening

Steps

  • Lie down on your belly on the bed or sofa.
  • You may hold a 1- or 2-pound weight with your affected hand. Do not use weights if you are not comfortable yet.
  • Let your hand dangle down. This is the starting position.
  • Move your hands to the back, as far as you can go. But do not lift them too high up.
  • Hold for a second and return to the starting position.
  • Raise your hands laterally upwards.
  • Pause for a moment and bring your hands back to the starting position.
  • Do this set 15 times, twice a day.

5. Scapular Stability Exercise

Steps

  • Stand with legs hip-width apart.
  • Push your shoulders back to squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Push your shoulder blades down.
  • Hold for a few seconds.
  • Relax.
  • Do this 15 times, twice a day.

6. Shoulder ‘I’s And ‘Y’s

Steps

  • Lie down on your belly on a mat.
  • Extend your hands in front of you and keep your head down.
  • Lift your hands off the floor.
  • Bring them down.
  • Do the shoulder ‘I’s 10 times.
  • Move your hands apart so that they resemble a ‘Y’.
  • Lift your hands off the floor.
  • Bring them down.
  • Do the shoulder ‘Y’s 10 times.
  • Do this set twice, two times a day.

7. Shoulder Horizontal Abduction

Steps

  • Hold a resistance band and sit in a chair.
  • Keep your hands extended in front of you, hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Pull your hands apart until they are fully stretched to the side.
  • Bring your arms back to the starting position.
  • Do this 10 times, twice a day.

8. Shoulder Scaption

Steps

  • Secure one end of a resistance band under your feet. Hold the other end with your hand. Do not bend your elbow. Keep your hand to your side. This is the starting position.
  • Point your hand out at 45 degrees.
  • Raise your hand, without bending your elbow, until your hand is at your shoulder level.
  • Bring your hand back to the starting position.
  • Do this 10 times, twice a day.

These are the 8 shoulder labral tear exercises you can do at home. Exercise therapy helps in faster recovery. However, there are certain exercises you must avoid. Find out what they are in the following section.

Torn Labrum Exercises To Avoid

According to Dr. Jordan Duncan, Doctor of Chiropractic, it is better to avoid exercises that promote muscle imbalance and dominance of the large muscles on the front of the body. Examples include bench press. Avoid doing any exercise that aggravates the injury. If you are an athlete, focus on recovery and rest. If you have had a fall, avoid picking heavy objects or going to the gym until your shoulder has fully recovered.

Ways To Avoid Shoulder Labral Problems

The best way to avoid shoulder labral problems is to “maintain excellent scapular control and rotator cuff strength, which, in turn improves shoulder stability”, says Dr. Jordan Duncan, Doctor of Chiropractic. Warm up for 10 minutes before exercising, cool down after, and do posture correction and shoulder and back strengthening exercises to prevent shoulder labral tears.

Takeaway

A torn shoulder labrum is painful and hinders range of motion. Talk to your doctor to see if you need surgery or medications. Apart from these medical treatments, work with a physical therapist to perform shoulder labral tear exercises to improve shoulder strength, range of motion, and shoulder stability. Your shoulder may take 4 to 6 weeks to heal completely. Rest your shoulders, use a cold compress, and focus on recovery under the supervision of a doctor and physical therapist.

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Charushila Biswas is a Senior Content Writer and an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition. She is an alumni of VIT University, Vellore and has worked on transgenic wheat as a part of her Masters dissertation from NRCPB (IARI), New Delhi. After completing her Masters, she developed a passion for nutrition and fitness, which are closely related to human psychology. This prompted her to author a review article in 2015. She has written over 200 articles on Fitness and Nutrition. In her leisure time, Charushila loves to cook and enjoys mobile photography.