Physical Therapy Shoulder Exercises

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There are many reasons to get physical therapy exercises for your shoulder. Injury is a main reason, whether from an accident at work, a car accident or something else. Disabilities, neuromuscular conditions and muscle atrophy or lack of tone can all be reasons that you get physical therapy on your shoulder as well. Here is a look at some popular shoulder exercises you can do to help build strength and flexibility in this area:

A Word of Caution
All Physical Therapy exercises are designed to help injuries based on your body's limited abilities. If you have pain or injuries that haven't been seen by a medical professional, be careful of doing any exercises that aren't cleared by a doctor. This is especially true if you are trying weight bearing exercises and have a spinal injury, as you may worsen the problem instead of healing it. Be certain to only do ten or fifteen at a time of each exercise, working from easy to harder. If you feel pain, particularly referred pain that radiates to another part of the body, stop the activity and speak to your doctor or therapist before starting the exercises again. If you are doing exercises that make you dizzy or feel off balance, then be certain to support yourself to avoid falling.

Weighted Shrugs
This is an easy one to begin with, and usually requires little more balance or strength than you already have. It is as simple as shrugging your shoulders and adding a little weight to your hands as you do. It is an easy exercise to increase gradually with higher weights each time you are ready. Your arms should stay straight and down, and the only thing moving upward should be your shoulders. If you don't have hand weights, you can choose other heavy objects from your home, like water-filled tea kettles or bags filled with books.

External Rotation Pull
Take a resistance band and tie it to a doorknob. Stand so the doorknob is near the opposite hip of the shoulder you want to exercise. Reach your arm across your body, grab the band, and pull the band back across to the outside of your body. Be sure to keep your elbow tucked close to your torso, moving only your forearm and rotating your shoulder.

Internal Rotation Pull
Set up the same was as with the external rotation pull, and stand in the same position. This time, take the band with the arm closest to the doorknob. The positioning is similar, with the elbow close to the torso and the arm bent ninety degrees. This time, rotate the shoulder and pull the forearm across the body until the band and your hand touch your opposite arm.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "Physical Therapy Shoulder Exercises," in, January 10, 2016, (accessed August 9, 2022).