AC Joint Exercise for Stronger Shoulders!

shoulder joint anatom

If you have a weak or injured acromioclavicular joint then ac joint exercise should begin with movements that stabilize the scapula.

Then follow up with shoulder strengthening exercises for the whole shoulder girdle complex.

The ac joint, at the top of the shoulder, joins the scapula with the clavicle and can become aggravated by repetitive overhead activities.

If you have normal and pain free range of motion in the shoulder then you can begin AC Joint stabilization exercises starting with some that help to strengthen and stabilize the scapula:

From a Cobra position or prone lying upper back extension.


To exercise shoulder muscles and assist in stabilizing the shoulder joint. This shoulder exercise can begin to improve your posture as well as prepare the shoulder joint for more intensive exercises.

ac joint exercise image


Lying on your stomach with your elbows flexed and under your shoulders, lift your chest by drawing your abdominal muscles in so that your upper body weight is supported on your forearms.


Actively press or pull your body forward with your elbows pressing into the mat and towards your body. Feel the scapulae widen, as well as the chest. Keep the back of the neck long; so that the chin is about a fist length from your chest.

Upper Back Lift with Elbows:


To strengthen the upper back and muscles that help to improve your posture.


upper back lift image

Lying face down on a mat with hands on your shoulders and legs long and extended.


Lift your upper torso keeping feet anchored to mat, raise elbows higher keeping fingertips on shoulders or just out to the side with your hands. Keep your nose pointed down at the floor to keep proper neck alignment.

Repeat up to 5 times trying to keep proper body alignment and abs and upper back working to hold longer as you progress.

Once you are comfortable doing these shoulder stabilization exercises you can begin resistive ac joint exercise.

Avoid extreme range of motion, especially adducting the arm or bringing it towards or across the midline of the body as this will stress your acromioclavicular joint.

A Couple of my Favorite Shoulder Strengthening Exercises are listed below:


shoulder abduction exercise


This is a great ac joint exercise to strengthen the side or middle deltoid of the shoulder.


Standing with 3-8 lb dumbells held at your sides. The palms can face up or thumbs up as you raise.


With good posture and abdominals activated inhale as you raise your arms out to the sides until they are just parallel to the floor, exhale as you slowly lower them back to your sides.

Repeat this for 8-12 repetitions. Inhale as you raise your arms and exhale to slowly lower.

Lying Overhead Arm Slide:

shoulder overhead flexion


The arm slide is a very effective and low stress exercise for the acromioclavicular joint and an injured rotator cuff muscle.


Lying face down on the edge of a bench or table with one arm hanging off holding a 1-5 lb dumbbell with your head turned away from the working arm.


Slide your arm up to 120-degree angle over head. Palm can be facing down or toward you, do what’s most comfortable for you. Repeat for 8-12 repetitions.


shoulder external rotation


A good ac joint exercise to strengthen the arm muscles and the rotator cuff at the shoulder joint complex.


Standing with dumbbells or a stretch band. Elbows are at your waist, hands are in front of abdomen with palms facing, and forearms are parallel to the floor.


Stretch or open your hands apart until you feel the shoulder blades squeeze together in back then slowly come back to starting position. Repeat for 8-12 repetitions.

Check out more helpful articles about the ac joint and other shoulder exercises by going here.

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