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The Exercise Guide After Shoulder Surgery

Exercises will help you regain movement and flexibility in your shoulder, as well as you can return to daily activities gradually after shoulder surgery to ensure your complete recovery.

You may recommend exercising 2 or 3 times a day for a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes for the first few days after surgery. Any orthopaedic surgeon and physical therapist will suggest some standard exercises included in this guide. Additional exercises may also be recommended to reduce elbow and hand stiffness.

Before performing any of the exercises below, consult your physical therapist or orthopaedic surgeon. As you exercise, remember to use pain as your guide. If you exercise too much and too soon, healing may be delayed.

Pendulum exercise, Circular

Bend 90° forward to your waist level, supporting yourself with your unaffected hand placing it on a table.

The body should be rocked in a circular motion, and then the arm should be rotated 10 times in a clockwise direction and then 10 times in a counterclockwise direction. Your arm should be relaxed throughout the exercise. 

Your shoulder joint should be used to make the circular pendular movement. Every day, you may need to do three sessions. 

Supported Shoulder Rotation

Maintain a straight elbow and keep the shoulders together. Next, raise and lower the forearm, as shown. This exercise can also be performed with the help of a stick or cane, which will assist your arm’s extension (keep your elbow close to your body).

Repeat the exercise 10 times per session and do 3 sessions a day.

Note: After surgery, you may have restricted external shoulder movement. Consult your therapist before performing this exercise to see if your external rotation is restricted.

Shoulder Internal Rotation 

Bring your affected hand behind your back and hold a towel with the other hand bringing it across to the opposite side.

Repeat the exercise 10 times per session and do 3 sessions a day.

Walk-Up Exercise

Keeping elbows straight, use fingers to climb up the wall or doorframe as far as possible, and hold for about 10-20 seconds.

Repeat the exercise 5-10 times per session and do 3 sessions daily.

Shoulder Forward Elevation 

Keep your elbow straight, raise the arm to the top side, and bring it down slowly. Then, hold the arm upward for at least 10 seconds.

Repeat the exercise 5-10 times per session and do 3 sessions daily.

Tip: Try not to hike or bring out your shoulder blades. You may benefit from watching yourself while performing this exercise in a mirror.

Shoulder Abduction

Outstretch your arm, keeping your elbow straight and your palm facing downward. Move your arm up and down without shrugging your shoulder or tilting your trunk.

Repeat the exercise 3 times per session and do 3 sessions a day.

Note: This exercise is recommended only after certain surgeries.  

Shoulder Extension

Face the wall with your back straight, keep your hands straight to your side, facing the palm to the wall. Next, put your arms against the wall and ensure straight elbows. Hold this position for five seconds, and then relax.

Repeat the exercise 5-10 times per session and do 3 sessions daily.

Shoulder External Rotation

You should stand against a wall with your involved side facing the wall. Fold your elbow to 90° and then press the back of your hand gently against the wall. Hold the hand in this position for five seconds, and then relax.

Repeat the exercise 10 times per session and do 3 sessions a day.

Shoulder Internal Rotation

Stand at a corner of a wall facing the wall. Your affected arm should be placed at the corner facing the palm against the wall, raise your elbow 90° and press the palm into the wall. Stay in this position for a few seconds (5 sec), and then relax your hand. 

Do 3 sessions in a day and for every session, repeat it 10 times.

Shoulder Adduction 

Take a pillow and place it between your chest and your arm. Then press the pillow against your chest with your arm. Stay in this position for 5 seconds, and then relax.

Do 3 sessions in a day and for every session, repeat it 10 times.

Shoulder Strengthening

This exercise involves both internal and external rotation. 

During an internal rotation, you should lie on the affected shoulder. Keep your affected hand elbow bent at 90° and hold a lightweight object with it. Now slowly raise the hand upwards to the stomach and then return slowly. Do the same 10 times.

Whereas in an external rotation, you should lie on the unaffected side. Keep your affected hand elbow bent at 90° and hold a lightweight object with it. Now slowly raise the hand upwards away from the body and return slowly. Do the same 10 times.

Do both exercises 3 times a day.

Never practice exercises without consulting your shoulder surgeon or physical therapist after surgery. For more details or looking for an experienced shoulder surgeon in Hyderabad, consult Dr Chandra Sekhar, consultant shoulder surgeon in Hyderabad at Sunshine Hospital.

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