Exercises For Shoulder Rehabilitation

Top 5 Exercises For Shoulder Rehabilitation

The shoulder is a complex joint that plays a vital role in many daily activities, from carrying grocery bags to throwing a ball. However, it is also prone to injuries and can cause significant pain and discomfort. Shoulder physiotherapy is an effective way to rehabilitate and strengthen the shoulder after an injury or surgery. 

In this blog, we will discuss the top 5 exercises for shoulder rehabilitation that can help improve shoulder function and reduce pain.

Exercise 1: Pendulum Stretch

The pendulum stretch is an effective exercise to increase shoulder mobility and flexibility, especially after a shoulder injury. It is a low-impact exercise that can be easily performed at home without any equipment. Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand with your unaffected arm resting on a table or chair for support.
  • Let your affected arm hang down and relax.
  • Slowly swing your arm in a small circular motion, keeping it relaxed.
  • Gradually increase the size of the circle until you feel a gentle stretch in your shoulder.
  • Repeat in the opposite direction.

Perform this exercise for 2-3 minutes, 2-3 times per day. It is important to keep your movements slow and controlled to avoid any discomfort or pain. If you experience pain or discomfort, stop the exercise immediately and consult your physiotherapist.

The pendulum stretch is a great way to loosen up your shoulder joint and reduce stiffness, making it an ideal warm-up exercise before performing other shoulder exercises. It can also be used as a cool-down exercise after a workout or as part of your daily shoulder rehabilitation routine.

Exercise 2: Shoulder Flexion

Shoulder flexion exercise is a simple yet effective exercise that helps to improve the mobility and strength of the shoulder joint. This exercise can be performed either in a standing or sitting position. To perform this exercise:

  • Start by standing up straight or sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the ground and your back straight.
  • Keep your affected arm straight and lift it forward until it is level with your shoulder.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds, then slowly lower your arm back down to your side.
  • Repeat this exercise for 10-15 repetitions, 2-3 times a day.

Make sure to perform this exercise slowly and smoothly, without any jerky movements. You can increase the difficulty of this exercise by adding light weights, such as dumbbells or resistance bands.

This exercise is beneficial for patients with shoulder impingement, rotator cuff injuries, and other shoulder-related conditions. However, if you experience any pain or discomfort while performing this exercise, stop immediately and consult your physiotherapist.

Exercise 3: Shoulder Abduction

Shoulder abduction is another essential exercise in shoulder rehabilitation. It helps in strengthening the muscles in the shoulder and the upper back. To perform this exercise:

  • Stand or sit with your back straight and your arms at your sides.
  • Slowly raise your arms to the side until they reach shoulder level.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds.
  • Slowly lower your arms to your sides.
  • Repeat the exercise for 10-15 repetitions.

It is important to keep your shoulders relaxed and avoid shrugging during this exercise. Start with small movements and gradually increase the range of motion as you progress. If you experience pain during the exercise, stop and consult your physiotherapist.

Exercises For Shoulder Rehabilitation

Exercise 4: Shoulder External Rotation

Shoulder external rotation exercise targets the rotator cuff muscles which are important for shoulder stability and function. The exercise can be done in different variations, including with the elbow bent or straight, and with or without resistance bands. Here’s how to do it:

  • Start by standing with your arms by your sides, holding a lightweight dumbbell or resistance band with your injured arm.
  • Keeping your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle and your upper arm close to your side, rotate your forearm outwards so that your hand moves away from your body.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the exercise for 10-15 repetitions, then switch to the other arm.
  • You can gradually increase the weight or resistance of the band as you get stronger.

Note: Make sure to keep your elbow and upper arm stationary throughout the exercise and avoid swinging your arm or using momentum.

Exercise 5: Wall Angels

This exercise helps in improving the mobility of the shoulder blades and strengthening the muscles around the shoulders.


  • Stand with your back against a wall, your feet hip-width apart, and your arms at your sides.
  • Slowly raise your arms to shoulder level and bend your elbows at 90 degrees, with your forearms resting on the wall.
  • Move your arms up and down, maintaining the contact of your arms with the wall.
  • Try to squeeze your shoulder blades together as you bring your arms down.
  • Repeat for 10-15 repetitions.


  • Ensure that your lower back is pressed against the wall.
  • Keep your chin tucked in and your neck straight.
  • Don’t arch your back or allow your arms to come away from the wall.
  • Take it slow and steady and focus on your technique.

Wall angels are a great exercise for those with shoulder injuries as they are low-impact and help to improve shoulder mobility and stability. Incorporating these exercises into your rehabilitation program can help you to regain strength and function in your shoulders.

Final Thoughts

Incorporating shoulder rehabilitation exercises into your daily routine can help alleviate pain, increase mobility, and promote overall shoulder health. The five exercises outlined in this article are just a few examples of the many exercises that can be prescribed by a physiotherapist. Remember to always consult with a qualified healthcare professional before starting any exercise regimen to ensure that it is safe and effective for your individual needs.

At Melbourne Hand Therapy, our team of experienced physiotherapists can develop a tailored rehabilitation program to help you achieve your goals. Whether you are recovering from an injury or surgery, or simply looking to improve your shoulder function, we are here to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards better shoulder health.

Please call us at Melbourne Hand Therapy today (03) 9899 8490 or leave an enquiry and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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