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At Home Workout: STOMPS

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Strengthening and Optimal Movements for Painful Shoulders, STOMPS for short, is a home-based exercise program that has been shown to be effective in reducing long-standing shoulder pain in people with spinal cord injury. 

Upper-extremity (UE) pain is a common complication after spinal cord injury (SCI), with both the incidence and severity of pain increasing with time post-injury. The shoulder joint is the most common, and is most commonly attributed to chronic impingement syndromes (75%) and rotator cuff tears (65%-71%). Untreated, shoulder pain may lead to additional losses in function and community mobility. 

Chronic shoulder pain after SCI can be reduced by using a home exercise program coupled with assessment and modification of performance technique for several weight-bearing activities.

While the STOMPS protocol was designed for individuals with spinal cord injuries, previous research has shown that strengthening exercises of the shoulder rotators and scapular stabilizers in adults without disabilities, but who have chronic inflammation have yielded improvement from performing similar exercises. 

Traditionally, STOMPS consists of a stretching phase, a warm-up phase, and a resistive shoulder exercise phase. For the purposes of our home videos, we have only included the resistive exercise phase. For the stretching phase, feel free to supplement this routine with our flexibility home exercise program as well.

The resistive exercise phase consists of four exercises; including shoulder elevation, shoulder external rotation, horizontal shoulder abduction and scapular retraction.

  • All exercises should be performed slowly in both directions.
  • Rest periods for 1 to 2 minutes between sets.
  • In general, the exercise phase follows a protocol of 3 sets of 8 or 15 repetitions depending if the goal is hypertrophy or endurance.
    • Shoulder Elevation – Thumb Up exercise with a hand held weight
    • Shoulder External Rotation – Shoulder Rotations with exercise bands
    • Horizontal Shoulder abduction – Pull aparts with elastic bands
    • Scapular Retraction – Shoulder Squeeze with exercise bands

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Tips/Modifications and Safety Precautions

  • All exercises in the video can be accomplished in seated or standing position.
  • All exercises in the video can be done with weight (dumbbells, bands, water bottle, etc.) or body weight, instead focusing on the range of motion.
  • These movements should be performed gently, to help prepare your muscles for the resistance exercises. 
  • If you experience any unusual or significant pain with the movements, try gently stretching the muscles again before starting with the weight or exercise bands. 
  • If this pain continues, do not perform the painful exercises this session. 
  • You can perform the other exercises if you’re not having significant pain with those motions. 

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