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Shoulder Rehabilitation

Welcome to our Shoulder Rehabilitation video series. The goal of these videos is to maximize your recovery following shoulder surgery. This video should not be used as a substitute for regular physical therapy visits and guidance from your physician.

Click here to download a pdf version of the Shoulder Rehabilitation Guide

PHASE 1 – Passive Motion Exercises / Shoulder Surgery Rehab

GOALS:  Protect healing tissue; minimize shoulder stiffness with low-stress motion exercises

KEY POINTS:

  • Engage in passive motion only; do not lift your arm on its own
  • Allow gravity or your opposite arm to lift and move the involved shoulder
  • Start at one set of 12-15 reps and progress to 2 sets
  • Conduct exercises 2-3 times daily

PHASE 2 – Active Motion Exercises / Shoulder Injury Exercises

GOALS:  Normal shoulder motion in all directions

KEY POINTS:

  • Use the opposite arm to help move the affected arm via pulley or stick
  • Try to avoid ‘hiking’ of the shoulder; keep shoulder blades down and level during motion
  • Start at one set of 12-15 reps and progress to 2 sets
  • Conduct exercises 2-3 times daily

PHASE 3 – Stretching Exercises / Shoulder Pain Exercises

GOALS:  Resolve any tightness or stiffness in the shoulder that may be limiting full shoulder motion

KEY POINTS:

  • Avoid ‘hiking” the shoulder to achieve full motion at the joint
  • Compare to motion of opposite shoulder to determine any deficiency
  • Conduct stretching exercises 3-4 times per day
  • Hold stretch for 30 seconds, relax for 15 seconds, then repeat for 5 reps per session for each exercise

PHASE 4 – Isometric Strengthening Exercises / Post Shoulder Surgery Exercises

GOALS:  Activate muscles and avoid de-conditioning

KEY POINTS:

  • Isometrics are the least stressful type of strengthening exercise
  • Used to prepare muscles for early strengthening while avoiding stress, to healing tissue after injury or surgery
  • Exercises involve contraction against a fixed resistance [ex: post, wall, doorframe, etc.]
  • Hold each exercise for 5 seconds; repeat 8-10 repetitions

PHASE 5 – Early Strengthening Exercises / Shoulder Strengthening Exercises

GOALS:  Rebuild muscle endurance in low-stress manner

KEY POINTS:

  • All exercises are done below shoulder level to avoid irritation
  • Avoid extension of the elbow behind the back
  • Do light resistance and high repetitions
  • Exercise bands [ex: Therabands] are used for light resistance. Bands have different resistance with each color based on the manufacturer. Start with the lightest resistance band and increase every 1-2 weeks as tolerated
  • Conduct 1-2 sets of 12-15 repetitions per session; hold for 1-2 count at point of max resistance
  • Conduct strengthening exercises 3-4 times per week; allow for a rest day in between sessions
  • If irritation and pain develop, decrease resistance or frequency of exercises

PHASE 6 – Advanced Strengthening Exercises / Shoulder Surgery Recovery

GOAL:  Build muscle strength and improve shoulder function

KEY POINTS:

  • Conduct strengthening exercises 3-4 times per week; allow rest day
  • Conduct 1-2 sets of 12-15 repetitions per session
  • If irritation and pain develop, decrease resistance or frequency
  • You may prefer exercise bands for some exercises as opposed to dumbells
  • You can substitute cable machine at the gym for exercise bands, if desired
  • Return to sports or high level activity per physician recommendation

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