You wouldn't wish a shoulder injury on your worst enemy, so do everything in your power to prevent them in your own body. Postural issues, muscle imbalances and overuse leave you vulnerable. Shoulder stability involves cooperation between the muscles that support your arms and shoulders. All you need is a stability ball, a wall and a little bit of rhythm.
Your shoulder muscles create a bridge between your neck region and your arms. An articulation between the head of your humerus -- the upper arm bone -- and your scapula -- the shoulder blade -- forms your freely moveable shoulder joint. The mobility of this joint allows you to swim and play golf, tennis or a variety of other sports, but you pay for this freedom with instability. Despite an army of ligaments and tendons protecting your shoulder joints, one forceful movement can cause rotator cuff tears, impingement or dislocation. Rhythmic wall ball exercises play a key role in shoulder stabilization and injury prevention.
You've Got Rhythm
Healthy shoulders rely on rhythmic coordination between the movements of the shoulder blade and the movement of the ball, or head of the humerus, in your shoulder socket. This scapulohumeral rhythm helps prevent shoulder impingement. Scapular dyskinesia describes out of sync movements between your shoulder blades and the ball in the shoulder socket. Watch the muscle-bound guy in the aerobics class. With every jumping jack, his shoulders touch his ear lobes. If he had rhythm, this wouldn't happen. Wall ball rhythmic stabilization exercises are like couples dancing lessons for your shoulder joints.
Physical therapists prescribe rhythmic wall ball circles for certain injuries, but a proactive approach to shoulder stability offers a better strategy. Place a medium-sized stability ball against the wall. Push your hand against the ball and straighten your arm. Make 10 small clockwise and eight small counter-clockwise circles, then switch arms. Contract your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine as you perform this exercise. A weighted medicine ball adds challenge to this exercise, but consult your physical therapist if you are recovering from shoulder injuries.
Dr. Brian Abelson developed the four cardinal-planes wall ball exercise. Use the same starting position as the wall ball circles, and begin by rolling the ball overhead, without letting your scapular elevate. Lower the ball, then roll it out to the side, then return it to center. Repeat the sequence eight times, then switch sides. In either of these exercises, if you notice discrepancies between one side and the other, consider your usage throughout the day. That heavy shoulder bag you carry on one side might be causing shoulder rhythm problems.
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.