Shoulder impingement is a common cause of chronic shoulder pain that can be treated with exercise. Impingement can be caused by a structural narrowing of the space between the humeral bone and acromion of the scapula, or by a muscle imbalance of the rotator cuff and/or scapular stabilizer muscles. These types of impingement are referred to as structural and functional, respectively.

Thera-Band® resistance band exercises are commonly used in rehabilitation of shoulder impingement. In fact, nearly 75% (9 out of 13) of the studies in a systematic review of physiotherapy exercises for impingement included elastic resistance exercise for the rotator cuff and scapula. In their review, Kromer and colleagues found that passive treatments (such as modalities only) are not effective and cannot be justified when treating shoulder impingement.

The authors found that physiotherapist-led exercises were as effective as surgery for shoulder impingement. In addition, home-based exercises were as effective as physiotherapy interventions, although manual therapy in the clinic may provide additional short-term relief. Based on these conclusions, Thera-Band resistance band exercises in the clinic or home can be an effective and safer alternative to surgery.

Kromer TO, et al. Effects of physiotherapy in patients with shoulder impingement syndrome: a systematic review of the literature. J Rehabil Med. 2009;41(11):870-80.

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