At Home Shoulder Exercise Guide


If you have recently undergone shoulder joint replacement surgery, you are in good company. Over 50,000 people have shoulder replacement surgery each year in the United States. A shoulder joint replacement can help relieve your pain, restore function, and enable you to live a fuller, more active life.

The speed of your recovery after shoulder replacement surgery will depend on how faithfully you follow the exercise program provided to you by your physician and physical therapist. Your exercise program will be personalized to fit your needs and help you achieve your goals. Here are the most common exercises prescribed after shoulder replacement surgery. You may perform all of these unless otherwise directed by your surgeon.



Pendulum Exercise

While standing, bend at the waist and let your arm hang relaxed. Begin by swaying your whole body back and forth, causing the relaxed arm to swing gently. Move your arm side to side and back and forth. Repeat, moving the body and arm in circular patterns, clockwise and counter clockwise.


Gripping Exercise

Make a fist, and open and close your hand without moving your repaired shoulder. Your arm can be bent or straight, whichever is more comfortable.


Shoulder Blade Pinch

Stand or sit with your arms at your side. Pinch your shoulder blades together, and hold for 5-7 seconds, then repeat.


Forearm Pronation & Supination

With your elbow bent and palm facing down, support your arm with your other hand near your wrist. Use your supporting hand to rotate the forearm so the palm is facing up, then repeat to gently rotate the forearm so the palm is facing down again.


Wrist Extension & Flexion

With the elbow supported and a gently closed fist, extend the wrist so your knuckles point up. Reverse the direction, and gently point the knuckles down.


Elbow Extension & Flexion

Lying down, place a small towel roll under your arm just above the elbow. Relax your shoulder. Then, keeping your hand straight, gently bend the lower arm up and then straighten it out, doing a full range comfortably.


These exercises should not cause increasing pain. If this does occur, discuss it with your physical therapist. In the early phases of physical therapy following surgery, the focus is on regaining motion – not strength. Do not apply resistance while performing these exercises, and do not lift anything heavier than a cup of coffee with your operative arm.