I have a client who's right shoulder used to come out of the socket. She is still worried about it, though she safely completes every exercise. Are there any specific exercises I should do to stabilize/strengthen the joint?
As you know, the shoulder is the most mobile but also the least stable joint of the body. As a result, dislocations are something that do occur but usually as a result initially of some sort of major trauma. When a dislocation occurs, there is often damage to the surrounding labrum of the joint that helps create stability as well as injury to the cartilage of the joint, especially with subsequent dislocations.
Depending on the number of times the shoulder “used to come out of the socket” and due to the apprehension of the client about exercise, that is a red flag to me that there may in fact be damage to the joint in terms of the stabilizing structures.
Rotator cuff strengthening can help, but if there is in fact damage to the structures like the labrum, the joint will still be unstable, even with strengthening until surgically remedied. Newer MRI procedures are used today to identify such issues, surgical intervention for such problems are now much less invasive and recovery times are greatly shortened as a result.
If surgery is not an option, I would be very careful in terms of exercise selection and intensity. I would suggest stabilization exercises like push up holds and both external and internal rotation work. Make sure that the external rotation work is not combined with shoulder abduction. Although she currently safely completes every exercise, in the case of an instable joint, it just takes one wrong move to redislocate and then she is back to stage one again. If she does in fact have another episode, an orthopedic consultation is surely indicated.