4 Shoulder-Strengthening Exercises

This article originally appeared on Prevention.com

A shoulder is a master of mixed messages. Flexibility is important, but too much stretching can cause damage; strength is key, but be careful not to overdo it or else you'll find yourself in a world of hurt.

If you have shoulder pain, your first step is to see a doctor to rule out serious problems like a rotator cuff tear. Once you have the all-clear, you can take the next step, which is to strengthen your shoulders via smart, safe exercises.

We turned to Michael Silverman, PT, MSPT, of the Hospital for Special Surgery, for the moves.

"These four exercises bring stability to the scapula (shoulder blade), helping to keep the ball in the socket," he says. "Strengthening the muscles that stabilize the scapula and rotator cuff will help decrease pain while increasing stability in the joint."

Schedule time to do these moves at least 3 times a week. For each move, do 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions each. For more of a challenge, add a 1- to 2-pound dumbbell.

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