It’s just amazing how so often, recovery from injury and muskuloskeletal health in general boils down to good postural habits and great muscular control of the joints. This principle is especially true at the shoulder joint. The shoulder is fantastic, it’s unbelievably mobile – watch a softball whip pitcher doing their thing and imaging trying to get that kind of movement out of the hip! The issue with that great mobility is that the joint is relatively unstable. While technically a ball-and-socket joint, the socket is shallow enough that I think of it more as a ball-on-wall joint!
The structures stabilise the joint are largely soft tissue; cartilage at the deepest in level, ligaments (leathery structures that attach bone to bone) on top of that, and muscle. of these structures, it is only the muscles whose function we can truly control. Generally there are two types of muscle groups surrounding a joint. “Global” muscles are bulkier and more oriented toward movement of the bones, at shoulder these include but are not limited to the deltoid, biceps and triceps muscles. “Local” muscles are smaller and more oriented toward stabilising the joint, at the shoulder the best known of these muscles are the rotator cuff group (four muscles; supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis). Of course the shoulder also includes the shoulderblade, and its muscular attachments to the body, the collarbone, sternum and upper ribs and … oh my! The control and stability of this joint can obviously get hairy to consider, luckily we don’t need to do that here!
To improve the function of these stabilising muscle groups one needs to take alternative exercise approach to the traditional overhead presses, pushups, rows and flyes! Simple posturally focused exercises that force subtle stablisation of the joint against outside perturbations are a great way to build control over and endurance of these groups. One such (but by no means the only) exercise is shown in the attached video! Find a gym partner and give this one a try, it is a great place to start!