Proprioceptive exercises are commonly prescribed for lower extremity rehabilitation. More recently, sensorimotor (SMT) proprioceptive exercises have been used for shoulder rehabilitation. It’s thought that shoulder injury (in particular, shoulder instability) is related to proprioceptive deficits. Researchers speculate that deafferentation (loss of sensory information) from the mechanoreceptors of the shoulder joint capsule and altered proprioceptive information create these sensorimotor deficits (Lephart et al. 1997; Tibone et al. 1997)
A review paper in Athletic Training and Sports Healthcare discussed the adaptations of the sensorimotor system following shoulder rehabilitation. The authors used the PEDro system for inclusion criteria to review 23 articles. The most common techniques the paper reviewed included:
- Joint repositioning
- Closed-kinetic chain exercises
- Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
- Joint Perturbations
- Activation of muscle through elastic tubing, free weights or oscillation
The authors concluded that sensorimotor rehabilitation after shoulder injury is crucial, and that the sensorimotor system is, in fact, trainable. A proprioceptive and sensorimotor training program including Thera-Band® elastic bands and tubing, FlexBar® Oscillation, and closed-kinetic shoulder exercises with Stability Trainers should be included as part of a shoulder rehabilitation or prevention program.
Reference: Myers JB, and Oyama S. 2009. Sensorimotor training for shoulder injury. Athletic Training & Sports Health Care. 1(5):199-208.