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Shoulder Mobility Drills w/ Torn Labrums


I have torn labrums in both of my shoulders. I tore the labrum in my left shoulder wrestling in high school around 10 years ago, and tore the labrum in my right shoulder around three months ago flipping a mattress over. I was holding the mattress up with one arm at 90 degrees, and the weight fell back and externally rotated my shoulder to an extreme degree.

I had an MRI done, and the conclusion was a slight tear of the labrum in the superior part (not sure if I phrased that correctly, but doc said it was in the top part of labrum).

I never had surgery to fix my left shoulder, and I am not having surgery on my right shoulder (at least not at this point). I have little to no pain in my left shoulder now, and it is stable for the most part. I do not know what kind/where that tear is.

My right shoulder is stable, though I do have pain with overhead lifts. My range of motion is still normal in that shoulder, it's just that it hurts when I get to the end of that range in either direction.

Now that the history is out of the way, my question regards safe stretching/strengthening exercises to increase the mobility and strength in both shoulders. I have looked online and found some stretches that involve a 4-6 foot rod/broomstick/whatever. I can do most of them, but I do have some pain in my right shoulder.

Is there anything I should avoid doing since my labrums are already torn? I always hear to stop doing something if it hurts, but I do understand the need for shoulder mobility. Is it too late to improve that if I'm already injured?


Was there only the labral damage without any capsular damage? Have you had hypermobile and a high degree of laxity in your shoulders?

I am not a fan of the shoulder dislocations for somebody with an acute labral tear and especially for anybody with a capsular issue. The biggest thing for you is going to be to strengthen your small scapular stabilizer muscles. Focus on YTWL exercises and similar ones. If overhead lifts are painful, then avoid those for now. Work on a lot of thoracic mobility - side lying thoracic rotation, quad thoracic extension rotation, etc. Of course, work the rotator cuff as well. Once the shoulder settles down a bit, some proprioceptive exercises would be good for your shoulder as well.

Start there and progress as your body heals. Best of luck.


It's definitely not too late. Only after I tore the labrum in my left shoulder did I appreciate the need for better mobility. I tore my labrum about 4 months ago while playing water polo and since I've gone to a great rehab facility to get me back into shape. I'm back to benching and some overhead pressing, but I can tell you that for the most part, I try not to aggravate the shoulder by doing anything too crazy overhead.

Try surfing through Kelly Starrett's blog - www.mobilitywod.com. He provides a lot of great mobility exercises and stretches for athletes with all kinds of soft muscle tissue problems.
As far as stability exercises, these are the ones that I rotate through (with good results) - face pulls; scaption and super scaption; plank exercises; medicine ball pushups; and bosu pushups and planks.

Part of my issue with stability also involved lack of proportionate muscle in my upper back, so I had to work to bring those muscles up to speed. But as always, it's good to seek the advice of a professional, particularly if you can find a reputable DPT. Luckily for me, my therapist had personally torn his labrum as well so he had a personal background to work with. Good luck!


Torn labrum leaves you very susceptible to dislocated shoulder so doing shoulder dislocates is not good, just gives your shoulder practice. You really want to keep it in there for a long time at least 5 years or so. You pretty much want to do as many shoulder exercises as possible, but not real heavy reps of 12 - 20.


Great article for a weak shoulder, you can do the exercises with real light weights. I'm talking 10lbs and still work area around your injury. Do the band pull aparts not just from the top but at chest level and the bottom. You want to make sure your shoulder has strength at all angles.

You can strengthen the area around it and make it able to handle easy impact but your shoulders will always be easily injured if you don't think about the things you do. Like sleeping on your stomach, and other things.


Thanks everyone...that is a great article AirTruth. I just got back from a lift and ended it with the Shoulder Shocker. I used a 25 lb plate for the front raise and 10 lb dumbells for the rest. I also put the band pulls in, and I will keep doing those all of those exercises the next few weeks and see if I have any improvement.

LH - when I first saw my doctor, around 3 days after the initial injury, he said the capsule could have been stretched out, but never confirmed anything. That is the last, and only time, I ever heard anything about stretching the capsule. What do you recommend for proprioceptive exercises?

I saw my PT (same one for my knee, ACL reconstruction), and she gave me some bands and a short list of exercises. I have been doing those 2-3 times per week over the past 3 months, but am just getting bored with those and feel like I've stagnated with all of those movements. I can still do my normal lifting routine, but I just want to make sure my shoulder is stable for when I return to basketball, softball, etc. once I'm cleared from my knee injury.


What exercises did the PT prescribe to you to do on your own?

As far as proprioceptive exercises, if you have a training partner, it gives you more options as they can apply external perturbations.

Here are some options for exercises with a training partner:
1) Pushup isometric hold with perturbation (single or double leg): http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=eric+cressey+push+up&aq=f
2) Supine Shoulder Rhythmic stabilization/perturbations: Lay on your back with your arm extended in front of you (you can varying positioning), and have your training partner tap your shoulder while you maintain positioning and minimize movement. (http://www.youtube.com/user/ecressey#p/u/71/ywsxrw-VZ7g)
3) Wall Ball Single Arm Static hold with perturbation: Similar to supine shoulder stab, but you hold a swiss ball or other soft inflatable ball against the wall with your arm, keep scapula retracted and depressed and the shoulder packed, and have your training partner tap your arm in all directions while you attempt to hold it still. You can do this facing the front and to the side.
4) Quadruped Rhythmic Stabilization: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmWJtWeQcBI&feature

For some options to do on your own, I like a lot of push up variations. Pushups on TRX/rings will provide some added proprioceptive qualities. Pushups with chains will add a slight proprioceptive nature to the exercise as well. Slide board pushups w/ bands (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VRo4x8bOF4&feature) and T pushups are good options. Single arm overhead KB or DB walks/lunges/etc will provide a good open chained proprioceptive exercise for your shoulder.