Shoulder exercise is done with a wide range of variations. Isometric contractions are one of the ways to perform shoulder exercise. In my previous articles, I discussed how to perform isometric exercises of elbow, wrist, knees and low back. Isometric exercises are exercises that do not produce any visible body movements. The length of the muscle fibers does not change while performing this exercise. That is why these exercises are a good option to consider when a joint is in a cast or immobilized. They are also a good option to initiate your exercise protocol when a person demonstrates severe weakness or pain.
When to perform Shoulder Exercises Isometrically?
There are many benefits to performing isometric exercises. Depending on the muscle strength, and goal that you and your therapist are working on, a therapist may provide isometric exercises in different forms to achieve that goal. Below are the few indications that you can utilize shoulder isometric exercises.
- As initiate exercises in people with severe deconditioning
- When the shoulder is in immobilizer
- To reduce muscle pain and muscle spasm
- To improve muscle strength.
With some repetitions, isometric exercise helps to reduce pain. With increasing muscle pumping action, it helps to reduce swelling. They also increase strength and make a person be able to perform full ROM isotonically.
Here are shoulder isometric exercises with pictures and how to do it.
As shown in this figure, a person is trying to resist the forward movement of the shoulder. You can perform it in front of a wall or any steady surface. The surface should be steady for safety purpose.
So here, you are trying to move/lift the shoulder in front of you but actually not lifting it. So in other words, you are pushing against the wall – as if you are trying to punch into it or trying to break it! Hold that contraction for 3 to 5 seconds. You can work up to holding the contraction up to 10 seconds with no pain. Also, make sure not to hold your breath!!
This is the opposite movement of shoulder extension. Here, you are trying to push into the wall while trying to bring your shoulder backward. And hold that contraction for around 2 to 5 seconds in a pain-free range.
To perform shoulder abduction isometrically, you are trying to move your shoulder/arm away from your body against the wall. As shown in the picture, you initiate the movement and hold that contraction for 3 to 5 seconds.
Adduction is to bring the shoulder closer to your body. So to perform shoulder adduction isometrically, you can place a pillow between your waist and elbow as shown in the figure. Try to bring the arm closer to your body and hold that contraction.
5. Shoulder Rotations:
To perform shoulder rotation isometric, you can stand at a steady surface or a wall with a hand supported with a pillow. The image here demonstrates how to perform shoulder external rotation. Here, you are trying to bring your forearm outwards, and hold that contraction for 3 to 5 seconds without holding your breath.
To perform shoulder internal rotation, you need to keep the pillow between your forearm and your body. Here, you will try to bring the forearm inwards, and hold that contraction in a pain-free range.
These are the basics of shoulder isometric exercise. There are many other ways you can perform isometric contraction. It also depends on a person’s strength. For examples: Holding a plank position, you are contracting upper body isometrically. Or maintaining certain yoga poses, you are using the isometric contraction of the upper body.
Below you can find the print out for these exercises.