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Shoulder Adduction Exercises

While you may not give it much thought, the muscles that bring your arm in towards your body are actually quite important. This movement, known as adduction, uses the muscles that make activities like throwing a ball or swinging a tennis racket possible. They also play a vital role in stabilizing your shoulder joint. Several different exercises help to strengthen this valuable group of muscles responsible for adduction.

Isometric Adduction

Isometrics are an easy, initial way to begin strengthening your shoulder adductor muscles.

Step 1:

Bend your right elbow at your side to a 90-degree angle and place a pillow in between your elbow and your body. Your right palm should face inwards.

Step 2:

Squeeze your elbow against the pillow as though you were trying to move it closer to your body.

Step 3:

Hold this squeeze for 5 to 10 seconds and then relax. Perform the exercise 10 times before repeating it with the left arm. Begin by squeezing with 25 percent of your effort and progress towards 100 percent as it becomes easier.

Shoulder Fly

This exercise strengthens the pectoralis major muscle which aids in adducting the shoulder.

Step 1:

Lie on your back with both arms lying at your side at shoulder level. Hold a weight in each hand with your palms facing up and your elbows slightly bent.

Step 2:

Slowly bring your palms towards each other until they meet in the air over your chest at midline.

Step 3:

Hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then lower the weights back to the ground. Complete 10 repetitions before taking a break. Begin with a relatively light weight (5 to 10 pounds) and progress as this becomes easy.

Resistance Band Adduction

This exercise uses an elastic band to challenge the adductor muscles of the shoulder.

Step 1:

Secure one end of an elastic band in the door. Stand with your right side facing the door and your right arm extended at shoulder level. Hold the other end of the band in your right hand with your palm down.

Step 2:

Slowly move your arm towards your side without bending your elbow.

Step 3:

When your hand reaches your right side, hold it there for 1 to 2 seconds before relaxing and returning to the starting position. Do this 10 times before switching to the left arm.

Read More: Exercises for the Frontal Plane of Movement

Lat Pull Down

This exercise strengthens your latissimus dorsi muscle which attaches to the front of your shoulder and helps with adduction.

Step 1:

Secure the middle of a resistance band in the top of a door. With your arms elevated over your head, hold onto each of band's ends.

Step 2:

Pull the ends down and back towards your hips as you bend your elbows. As you do this, squeeze your shoulder blades together. Maintain this hold for 1 to 2 seconds before returning the arms to their initial position. Complete the exercise 10 times.

Chest Press

Chest presses are another fantastic way to give the pectoralis major muscles a great workout.

Step 1:

Lie on your back on a weight bench. With your arms at your side at chest level, hold a dumbbell in each hand and bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle. A weight bar may also be used.

Step 2:

Raise the weights towards the ceiling as your straighten both your arms.

Step 3:

Hold the weights there for 1 to 2 seconds and then bend the elbows as you lower the weights back down. Do this 10 times before taking a break. Begin with lighter dumbbells (5 to 10 pounds) and progress the weight as you are able.

Indications and Precautions

For a comprehensive adductor strengthening routine, do two to four sets of each exercise two to three times weekly. A well-rounded strengthening program should also include exercises to target the other muscle groups in the shoulder. While the exercises should make your muscles burn, they should not cause increased pain.

Read More: Shoulder Exercises to Strengthen Rotator Cuff

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About the Author

Tim Petrie is a sports medicine physical therapist and a certified orthopedic specialist practicing in Milwaukee, WI. In addition to treating patients of all ages, he is passionate about writing about health and wellness topics. In his free time, Tim loves to run and travel with his wife and two kids.

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