BEST Exercises for an AC Separation

BEST Exercises for an AC Separation

An AC separation means anterior and posterior chain. The anterior chain consists of the muscles in front of your body. The posterior chain is located behind the body. The best way to separate your AC is by using these exercises regularly and staying hydrated with water during exercise.

I talk a lot about shoulder injuries and have helped thousands of people with Fix My Shoulder Pain.

AC separation is one shoulder injury I have not talked about in a while.

Today I have a video from Maria Mountain, who trains ice hockey goalies and players.

She has a great video on exercises to do if you have an AC separation. 

The exercises are suitable for anyone, not just ice hockey players.


Rick Kaselj, MS

CLICK HERE to watch the video on YouTube.

If you have ever had an AC separation, you know it’s a severe injury.

The excellent news is; that you can usually make a perfect full recovery, and I’m going to show a few ways to do that if you’re a goalie with an AC separation.

This is Maria Mountain.

Check out what I got for you today.

What is AC Separation?

An AC separation is an injury that is not common in ice hockey. Often an AC separation occurs in an off-ice sport, like a bicycle crash or a motor vehicle accident.

An AC separation happens when you fall on your shoulder, and the acromioclavicular joint (for short, AC joint) is damaged. The AC joint is made up of the acromion (part of the scapula/shoulder blade) and clavicle (collarbone). The severity of the separation can vary from minor (i.e., just a sprain) to severe (i.e., needing surgery).

If you do get an injury in the AC joint area, definitely the first thing you need to do is see your doctor. You may need to get an x-ray to make sure there’s nothing else that’s damaged.

Don’t just treat it yourself.

The next thing is to work on improving your range of motion and making it pain-free. Rick does this Fix My Shoulder Pain.

But then let’s talk a little bit about getting you back on the ice, on some strengthening exercises you can work on.

Exercises to Avoid During an AC Separation

When you have an AC separation, avoid exercises that require you to move your arm above your head. Any activity that puts pressure on the injured area and is unnecessary should be avoided during the healing process. It would help if you avoided overhead squatting, pressing, and anything that puts pressure on the joint. Once you have healed, you can gradually add these exercises to your routine but avoid doing anything that causes pain during the healing process. Avoiding these types of activities will help speed up your recovery process. For example, when you have an AC separation, avoiding exercises like pull-ups, chin-ups, and muscle-ups, where your arms are above your head, is best. Instead of these exercises, perform other variations of upper body exercises that do not involve lifting your arms above your head, such as push-ups, planks, and inverted rows. If you experience pain in your AC joint during these exercises, avoid them until the pain subsides.

1. Figure 8s with Bungee

Start with a Medium Bungee, loop your thumb into the tubing, and straighten your arm. Then you will trace a figure 8 with your hand, with good control.

on the side with Medium Bungee

Figure 8 on the side with Medium Bungee

I have the arm at 45 degrees and make sure you go both directions so that I can trace figure 8 this way and in the other direction (clockwise and counterclockwise).

You’ll be surprised because the one you will find one way and the other way you feel awkward at it.

Then the last way will be straight in front. You can do the same thing overhead when that is good and pain-free.

Figure 8 - Front & Overhead

2. Impulse Stabilization

Then what you want to do is get a little bit of work on impulse stabilization.

Have your arm straight out, and again we vary the angle and the position. Hold it out and then give it a tap with the other arm and have them try to hold their shoulders still and stable.

Impulse Stabilization

Impulse Stabilization

When they get pretty good at that, and they can control it very well, and it’s not painful, we’ll have them close their eyes and do the same.

You are not trying to break the arm; you try to give it taps and challenge the shoulder to control it.

3. Tubing Around Your Waist

The final thing is you have lost some muscle tone in your shoulder. Because it’s been immobilized for a while, it has gone through a healing phase. What we have done in the past is you are going to loop the Bungee around your waist and have the loose end in your hand.

Loop the Bungee on the Waist

And then, when you’re doing your agility, ladder, and hurdle drills. I’m going to get pretty good tension on this glove hand, but I’m just going to hold it there to get used to it because you’ll be surprised how having that glove is not that heavy.

When you get back on the ice, you’ll not have the stamina to your shoulder, your shoulder will feel tired, and your glove hand will drop down. Hold it there. If it is your stick hand, hold your stick as you go through those ladder drills and agility drills.

You can also do some single-hand ball or puck handling with that side to build a little more strength, stamina, and dexterity in that shoulder.

Hopefully, you never have an AC separation. They hurt a lot. But if you do, there are a few things that you can do just before you’re getting on the ice or once you’ve returned to the ice to get feeling a little bit more comfortable with that shoulder.

Once again, this is Maria from and

My mission is to help 10,000 players win more games with fewer injuries. Even if you don’t have the genetic gifts, act on your competitors’ ability.

Maria Mountain

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