Best 5 Exercises Following Shoulder Dislocation (strengthening phase)

Shoulder dislocations are common amongst the athletic population especially males between the ages of 18 – 30 involved in contact sports. The shoulder joint is the most movable joint in the body and thus making it the most unstable joint in the body. The most common type is an anterior shoulder dislocation accounting for 80% to 90% of all dislocations. This is when the shoulder is abducted and externally rotated with an external force. Often the excessive trauma results in structures around the shoulder being injured such as the ligaments, cartilage and tendons of the shoulder. A common injury is a Bankart lesion – this is when the ligament of the arm bone becomes damaged or ruptured form the shoulder socket. The other type of injury secondary to a shoulder dislocation is a Hills-Sachs lesion – this is a compression fracture of the back of the arm bone. Both injuries can cause further instabilities and result in recurrent dislocations if not treated.

There are 3 types of shoulder dislocation


As discussed, this is the most common form of dislocation which is where the head of the arm moves forwards out of the socket. This can cause pain, swelling, and difficulty moving the arm.


Not as common as anterior dislocation but can occur, this is where the head of the arm moves backwards out of the socket. Often it is more difficult to diagnose. Symptoms include pain, welling, and difficulty moving the arm, patients may also complain about weakness in the affected shoulder.

Inferior/multidirectional instability

Mostly present in people with known hypermobility or connective tissue disorders. The shoulder presents as loose/ unstable and can pop out of the socket in many directions and angles. Symptoms include instability in the shoulder joint, weakness and pain.


Treatment for dislocation is dependent on the severity of the injury. In some cases, surgery is required to reduce the space between the arm and shoulder socket. This is known as a closed reduction, and it involves moving the arm in a certain way to guide the ball of the upper arm bone back into the socket. This is followed with a period of bracing to allow the soft tissues to heal. Secondary to dislocation, soft tissue damage can occur to the ligaments, tendons and cartilage of the shoulder which often require surgical intervention to reduce instability. There is also the chance of some of the nerves being injured, which can cause further weakness, tingling or numbness of the arm. Re-injury is common amongst people that have dislocated their shoulder and they are more likely to dislocate it within 2 years of their initial injury. Rehabilitation is often recommended after a dislocation to reduce the risk of reoccurrence.

At Surrey Physio we treat patients who have experienced shoulder dislocation. We use the most up to date research to rehabilitate you back to pre injury state. If you think you have had a shoulder dislocation and would like advice, please visit us in clinic. Often this is the quickest way to be seen by a medical professional. We provide supervised exercises to strengthen and restore your normal movement. Two of the most common times we see dislocations is skiing after a bad fall, and rugby after a bad tackle.

We have developed 5 top exercises using the rehab my patient software for the strengthening phase of rehab.

Isometric door frame rotator cuff strengthening

Tuck your elbow in, keeping it next to your body, and resist the movement of your arm inwards towards your stomach by pulling against a door frame. Your arm should not move. This is an important strengthening exercise for the rotator cuff shoulder muscles.

Try 10sec holds with 10 reps

Rotator cuff exercise band exercise

Tuck your elbow in, keeping it next to your body, and move your arm outwards away from your stomach, using the band for resistance. This is an important strengthening exercise for the rotator cuff shoulder muscles.

Try 12-20 reps with 3 sets

Pec fly exercise

Lying flat on a bench, with your arms out straight, grasping a weight, bring your arms in towards each other. Keep your arms straight or slightly bent, and the weights should meet in the middle. Slowly lower the weights to the horizontal, or chest level. This exercise strengthens the pectoral (chest) muscles.

Try 12 reps with 4 sets

Shoulder push

Grasp a dumbbell in each hand, and lift the dumbbell above your head with one arm, and then the other. This exercise strengthens the deltoid muscle group.

Try 10 -12 reps with 3 sets

Core Control 7

Adopt a 4 point position on your hands and knees. Maintain good posture, and gently contract the deep abdominal muscles by drawing your belly button in (towards your spine). Lift one arm in front of you, and your opposite leg behind you. This exercise strengthens the deep core muscles.

Try 10 reps with 3 sec holds 3 sets

Shoulder dislocation is a common injury that can happen due to trauma such as a fall or sports trauma from contact sports like rugby. There are different types of dislocations included anterior, posterior and multidirectional. Some intervention will include a closed reduction or surgery depending on the severity of the injury. Most importantly rehabilitation is important for full recovery; this is where Surrey Physio is able to offer its expertise.

(Therapists: if you are reading this page, these videos are provided by Rehab My Patient – the best exercise prescription software for therapists to prescribe exercises Free trial available on their website. Patients: If you are a patient needing advice or a course of treatment, call Surrey Physio to book a telephone/video consultation with one of our expert physios or osteopaths, or book in face-to-face for an appointment. You can call us on 0208 685 6930 or book online by clicking the link at the top of the page).