This is an excellent way to activate shoulder external rotators while keeping the shoulder in a safe position. Isometric exercises simply mean that your joint is not moving, but all of the muscles that create a specific movement at the joint are active. We use these exercise early on in rehabilitation, when pain predominates and it may be unsafe to move beyond a certain position. Isometric shoulder exercises can be a great way to decrease pain and begin retraining your shoulder muscles. Isometric shoulder external rotation is particularly useful, as this movement is often very limited during rotator cuff injuries.
What you should feel
You will be pressing against the wall but your shoulder will not move from the starting position. These exercises are usually not painful but in some cases I may recommend pushing into very mild pain (ie. no more than 3/10), but this totally depends on your specific situation. This type of exercise can actually be good for relieving pain!
Stop this exercise if you are unsure about what you are feeling or if it is painful in an unexpected way.
Isometric Shoulder External Rotation
Here are the instructions and there is a video below that explains it all:
- Stand with the side of your body facing the wall.
- In most cases we perform this exercise from a resting (neutral) shoulder position. In some cases I may recommend starting from a different position and will have told you and practiced it this way with you in the clinic.
- For this exercise, a neutral position is not your arm tucked into your side. A neutral position is to say your arm is simply relaxed in a comfortable position at your side.
- Keep your elbow bent at a 90 degree angle.
- With the back of your hand / fist, press against the wall.
- Your arm should not move from the starting position.
- Your elbow should stay “locked in position.”
- You should be pressing with as much force as you can without moving your body or causing “unplanned” pain. If I told you to push through a certain amount of pain, then don’t let it go above that amount.
- Keep pressing against the wall for the specified duration (usually 10 seconds) and repeat for the specified repetitions / sets.
mdkPHYSIO provides specific parameters to all patients. In general, we press against the wall for 10 seconds and repeat for about 3 sets of 10 repetitions.