Proprioception Exercises for the Shoulder

Proprioception Exercises for the Shoulder

Proprioception is something most people take for granted, until they don't have it anymore. Proprioception gives you the ability to know where different parts of your body are positioned at any given time -- without having to look at them. Special structures in your muscles and tendons provide this information to your brain. However, after shoulder injury, these structures might need to be reminded how to do their job. Poor proprioception affects coordination and increases your risk of further shoulder injuries. You can perform exercises to improve your shoulder proprioception.

Proprioception exercises don't require fancy exercise equipment.


Weight bearing through the arms improves shoulder proprioception. Push-ups are an easy-to-do-anywhere weight-bearing exercise that can be modified to meet your current fitness level. Start with wall push-ups and progress to traditional push-ups on the floor as you get stronger.

Stand facing a wall, approximately one arm's length away from the wall. Place your palms against the wall at shoulder height.

Bend your elbows and slowly lower your upper body toward the wall. Keep your elbows close to your sides throughout the movement. Press back out to the starting position. Repeat 10 times and work up to three sets of 10.

Progress your push-ups by placing your hands on a lower surface, such as a sturdy chair. As your strength improves, you can perform regular push-ups on the floor, elevate your feet to increase the difficulty of the exercise or work on one-arm push-ups.

Proprioception exercises don't require fancy exercise equipment.

Wall Balls

The wall ball exercise is just what it sounds like -- a ball is thrown against a wall. You can practice this exercise with a beach ball until you master the technique, then progress to medicine balls of different weights.


Choose a spot on a wall, approximately 8 feet high, to be your target. Bend your elbows and hold the ball with both hands, just below your chin. Stand approximately 2 feet away, facing the wall. Squat down as far as you can, comfortably.

Stand up quickly from your squat and throw the ball overhead, aiming for your target. Catch the ball with both hands, bending your elbows and squatting down at the same time.

Repeat 10 times and work up to several sets in a row, or set a goal and complete wall balls for a set amount of time. Start with 30 seconds.

Proprioception exercises don't require fancy exercise equipment.

Quadruped Exercise

Quadruped exercises are performed in the hands-and-knees position. If you can't tolerate this position, start with your arms elevated on a step or other sturdy surface.


Get on your hands and knees. Position your knees in line with your hips and hands in line with your shoulders.

Without lifting your hands, rock forward and backward 10 times. Then rock side to side, 10 times.

From the same position, lift one arm straight out in front of you. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then switch and lift the opposite arm. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Proprioception exercises don't require fancy exercise equipment.

Ball Walk-Outs

Use a yoga ball for ball walk-out exercises.


Lie over the ball, on your stomach. Roll forward until your hands touch the ground with your elbows straight. This is the starting position.

Contract your core muscles, as if you are going to perform a push-up. Keep these muscles tight throughout the exercise.

Walk your hands forward until the ball is under your hips, then walk your hands backward to the starting position. Repeat 10 times. If you can't maintain your balance on the ball, walk out only a few steps to start, or practice holding the starting position.

Proprioception exercises don't require fancy exercise equipment.

Other Ball Exercises

Throwing, catching and dribbling a ball all improve proprioception in your shoulder. If you don't already play sports, you can play catch with a partner and throw a tennis ball overhand against a wall and catch it. If you have access to a trampoline, set it up at an angle, throw a ball against it and catch it on the rebound. Make this exercise more difficult by increasing the weight of the ball.