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Shoulder Instability: Learn Why Your Shoulder Pops Out and Back In

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You came here wondering why your shoulder pops out, and we have the answer for you. The short reason is, that things are just too loose!  In other words, the static stabilizers which include the joint capsule, ligaments, and labrum are overstretched, torn, or detached.  These structures ensure that the joint stays in place, however, the shoulder allows a large range of motion at the sacrifice of stability. How does a shoulder become instable?  Well, shoulder instability can either be atraumatic or traumatic.

For Instance, traumatic events include landing on your shoulder, falling on an outstretched hand, or reaching too far up and behind like serving a volleyball can absolutely cause your shoulder to pop out.

Significant trauma can cause dislocation or a subluxation. In other words, a dislocation occurs when the humerus completely falls out of the socket.  On the contrary, a subluxation occurs when the humerus quickly pops in out the socket. Atraumatic instability is caused by repetitive motions that stretch the structures. It’s also be caused by being genetically predisposed for laxity. Laxity can be a predisposition to spontaneous subluxation or dislocation.

Top Reasons Your Shoulder Pops Out

Commons symptoms of shoulder instability include the following:

  • Clicking and Popping
  • Pain with subluxation or dislocation
  • Giving away
  • Going or Popping in and out
  • Loss of range of motion, swelling, and bruising can occur with dislocation

How Can Physical Therapy Help with Shoulder Instability and Popping?

First, it’s important to consider dynamic stabilization. The rotator cuff, a group of 5 muscles, are the primary dynamic stabilizers of the shoulder. Good shoulder stability heavily relies on postural awareness and muscular strength. Therefore, exercise and treat these muscles regularly to improve dynamic stabilization.

Here are 3 Basic Activities for Phase I of Rehab

  • Sternum drops
    • Position: Hands under shoulders and knees under hips with at slight pelvic tilt
    • How: Push away from the floor. Then as you drop down allow your shoulder blades  to become closer together
Picture1 - Shoulder Instability: Learn Why Your Shoulder Pops Out and Back In
Picture2 - Shoulder Instability: Learn Why Your Shoulder Pops Out and Back In
  • External Rotation Isometric
    • Position: Standing at a wall with your elbow bent to 90 degrees. The elbow should be the outside of your elbow to the wall
    • How: Push into the wall holding for 10 seconds.
Picture3 - Shoulder Instability: Learn Why Your Shoulder Pops Out and Back In
  • Internal Rotation Isometric
    • Position: Standing at a wall with your elbow bent  to 90 degrees. The elbow should be the inside of your elbow to the wall
    • How: Push into the wall holding for 10 seconds       
Picture4 - Shoulder Instability: Learn Why Your Shoulder Pops Out and Back In
  • Wall Wash
    • Position: Standing facing a corner. Place a towel in your hand against the wall.
    • How: With slight pressure into the wall, move the towel up. Return to start.
Picture5 - Shoulder Instability: Learn Why Your Shoulder Pops Out and Back In
Picture6 - Shoulder Instability: Learn Why Your Shoulder Pops Out and Back In

Try these activities. No activity should be painful. These are very basic activities that can begin recovery.

In conclusion, if you have questions about the safest and most effective way to recover, a physical therapist should be consulted for a full program. If you’re looking for a team of experts who can help with your shoulder popping woes, click the button below to get in touch.

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