How to Strengthen Your Core When Dealing with a Shoulder Injury

One of the most effective and safest ways to treat back pain and strengthen our core is through a variety of plank progressions. But often times we run into trouble if we have concurrent shoulder pain that is aggravated in the low and high plank position.

When recovering from injury, it’s important to give tissues time to heal (stop ‘picking the scab’), The goal is to find ways to strengthen the body without irritating injured tissues - which means sometimes you have to be creative.

The following are three ways we can strengthen the core when we’re also dealing with a shoulder injury.

1. Supine Work

Supine (on our back) training is one of the best ways to train our core when planks and sit ups and curls are out of the question. They allow us to engage our anterior core musculature without putting any force through the shoulder joint itself. They can be regressed and progressed based on ability level- just like the plank.

Here are three examples of such exercises:


2. Rolling/Rotational Patterns

When talking about pain and injury prevention, training core coordination is just as important as core strength. Ensuring that our core musculature ‘fires’ in the right pattern and when we need them to is how we avoid injury with the seemingly mundane activities (pulling up your pants, reaching for something, etc).

One of the ways we can train core coordination is through rolling/rotational patterns which can be done without relying on our shoulders. Here are three examples we use in the clinic.


3. Strengthen Other Aspects of the Core

A lot of people have a tendency to equate their ‘core’ to their ‘abs’, when in reality, your core entails all the muscles that attach to the pelvis (this is the topic of a whole other article). Focusing on glute, postural, and movement patterning are all important in creating a strong core and can be emphasized when dealing with a shoulder injury.


Evolve Performance Specializes in helping active individuals find sustainable pain relief and keep their active lifestyle - regardless of age. We recently helped a 50 year old woman dealing with chronic low back pain. Focusing on her low back - we knew we wanted to strengthen her core to help protect her spine. It quickly became apparent that some shoulder pain was going to limit what we could do in terms of the usual planking series. By training these three areas we were able to strengthen her core to relieve her back pain - without aggravating her shoulder. In two months she was able to decrease her back pain - get back in the gym - while we’re not working on getting rid of her shoulder pain.

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