Depending on the severity of the injury or pathology and the progression of the AC joint dysfunction, exercises will vary. Exercises will mostly involve strengthening and stretching, aiming to achieve better mobility and stability of the joint and minimizing the risk of future injury or flare up.
Rotator cuff: Movements performed will be internal & external rotation and abduction of the shoulder. Start by anchoring a resistance band at elbow height. Keep your elbow by your side and slowly against the resistance externally rotate your shoulder. For internal rotation perform the same movement in the opposite direction. For shoulder abduction, anchor the resistance band below your feet whilst sitting or standing. Keep your elbows slightly bent and then raise both shoulders onto the side not going past 100 degrees of abduction. Return to the starting position slowly. For all the above exercises perform 3 sets of 12-15 slow repetitions.
Face pull with external rotation: Start by anchoring a resistance band at eye level. Hold onto both ends and slowly pull towards your face whilst squeezing your shoulders blades together. At the end of the movement slowly externally rotate your shoulders whilst keeping your shoulders blades together. Repeat for 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
Push press & Strict press: These two variations can be used in the later stages of the rehabilitation to build up strength and mobility of the joint. Perform with dumbbells or barbell by resting weight onto your collarbones and then driving the weight overhead with either a small push from the legs or with locked legs.
Theraband or stick assisted mobility: Perform movements to warm up the shoulders and AC joint by using a band or stick between your hands, going overhead and behind the back, engaging into different angles.
Pectoral Stretch: This stretch will achieve good mobility of the shoulder by reducing the protraction of the shoulders whilst encouraging freer movement. Perform by placing your forearm flat on a wall with your elbow bent at 90 degrees. Keeping your back straight slowly lean forward until the stretch is felt. Hold the position between 30-60 seconds.
Thoracic mobility: Perform rotational and extension movements of the upper back to improve mobility and open up the thorax, which will improve shoulder and AC joint mobility.