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Joint pain of the acromioclavicular joint, or AC joint pain, is often caused by injury or arthritis of the AC joint. Exercises for acromioclavicular joint pain have proven successful by many and have helped some avoid surgery.
Types of Exercises to Relieve AC Joint Pain
Range of Motion Exercise
Range of motion (ROM) is a great exercise to start with. You can do ROM exercises lying down or standing. When laying down point the hand of the sore shoulder to the wall then slowing raise the arm up to where the hand is pointing at the ceiling - slowly bring the arm back down to the bed. Do 10 reps or as close to 10 as you can. You can also incorporate raising the arm up toward the ceiling and then bending at the elbow and lowering back to the head of the bed.
If standing up you can bend your body over and allow the arm of the pained acromioclavicular joint to dangle towards the ground. First start out drawing imaginary small circles then progress to larger circles. Repeat this 10 to 12 times.
ROM exercises are encouraged after a shoulder surgery like Acromioplasty.
Strengthening Your Muscles
When the muscles around the AC joint are strengthened they provide more stability to the clavicle bone and reduce pain to the AC joint. The muscles to be strengthened include:
The supraspinatus muscle is responsible for raising your upper arm and moving your arm away from your body. The subcapularis muscle works internally in order to rotate the shoulder. The infraspinatus and the teres minor muscles are responsible for externally rotating your shoulder. These muscles work together to rotate your arm/shoulder and by building up these muscles you are providing stability and thus reducing AC joint pain.
Muscle Exercises for Acromioclavicular Joint Pain
External Rotation of the Shoulder
This is considered a very important exercise in order to not only strengthen the muscles surrounding the AC joint but to also reduce pain to the acromioclavicular joint. Perform the external rotation exercise by using resistance cables. Grip the handle and bring it towards your body to waist level and coming across your body - bend your elbow at a 90 degree angle while you pull the cable across your body. Keep your elbow next to your body and revolve (rotate) your arm with your upper arm. Bring your hand back slowly to the starting position. Your goal is 10 reps.
Internal Rotation Exercises for AC Joint Pain
Although similar to the external exercise, during internal rotation exercising you will stand far enough away so that you must reach out to the sides of your body to grab the grips. You will use your upper arm as the axis of rotation for this exercise to reduce AC joint pain. You will pull the band inward and across your body and controlling the weight as you return the handle back to the starting place.
Using Hand Weights to Reduce AC Joint Pain
You can also strengthen the muscles around your AC joint with hand-weights. You will do this similar to the range of motion exercises mentioned earlier. Do the same techniques mentioned earlier, only use a hand-weight while doing them.
Things to Remember
Always warm up prior to doing the exercises, do not exercise to the point of causing increased pain, give yourself a day in between muscle strengthening in order to allow the muscles to repair, breath normally during your work out, and know that these exercises for acromioclavicular joint pain will not work for all people with AC joint pain. You should give your body time to strengthen before giving up on the notion of this process working, but if after a period of time you have no significant results, you may want to speak to your doctor about alternative measures for your AC joint pain such as surgery.
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