Among the most common problems I see as a physical therapist are shoulder pain and injuries

Story by Tim Price

Gyms have reopened and local parks and rec departments are ramping up summer activities after the COVID-19 shutdown. We are blessed in the Flathead Valley to have great workout facilities and summer activities like softball, beach volleyball, folfing and much more. However, with increased activity also come increased aches and pains. Among the most common problems I see as a physical therapist are shoulder pain and injuries. Fortunately, many shoulder injuries can be improved or avoided altogether by performing a few simple exercises.

I once attended a national strength and conditioning conference where one of the presenters was the head strength and conditioning coach for the University of Texas Longhorns. He explained that of all the athletes’ injury prevention exercises, these basic shoulder exercises have had the greatest impact. Every Longhorn athlete — whether a football player, swimmer, gymnast or distance runner — is required to perform these exercises before every workout. Even on leg day! Give these exercises a try and see if they work for you, too.

Rotator Cuff Band Exercise — Tie an elastic band to a doorknob or anything else that works. Stand sideways to the band and hold it in your outer hand. Start with your arm folded across your belly and swing it outward. Do a couple sets of 10 on each side.

Rotator Cuff Band “Sawing” — Stand sideways to the band and hold it in your outer hand again. Place a little tension on the band and move your hand forward and back in a “sawing” motion. Do a couple sets of 10 on each side.

Side-lying Rotator Cuff Exercise — While lying on your side, hold a light dumbbell or other object in your hand. Hold your elbow tight to your side and swing the dumbbell upward toward the ceiling. Do a couple sets of 10 on each side.

Wall “Angels” — Stand with your back flat against a wall. Flatten your arms back against the wall, too. Shoulder tightness may prevent your arms from lying completely flat against the wall. Slowly move your arms up and down the wall. Do a couple sets of 10.

Adding these straightforward shoulder exercises in any combo to your exercise routine can greatly improve your function and help with injuries. Most importantly, these exercises do an amazing job of preventing injuries, which will help to keep you in the game.

Tim Price is a physical therapist and master-level fitness pro. He and his wife Lynde own and operate Flathead Health & Fitness along with Milestone PT in downtown Kalispell. To request a consult, call (406) 752-2438 or email tim@flatheadhealth.com.