Passive exercises for shoulder

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

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These exercises are passive since they require another person to stretch your arms. These exercises should be done slowly and gently, and can be done in either a seated or lying position.

Both passive as well as active exercises are an important part of shoulder rehabilitation.

Do not perform these exercises until you check with your physician or physical therapist

Flexion and Extension

Hold the forearm with one hand. With the other hand, grasp the top of the shoulder joint to stabilize it. Turn the palm inward, facing the body, and keep the elbow relatively straight. Move the arm from the side of the body over the head.

Abduction and Adduction

Place one hand on the shoulder, stabilizing the shoulder joint. With the other hand holding the elbow, support the forearm and turn the palm outward. Bring the arm out to the side, away from the body, as far as it will go.

Internal and External Rotation

Place one hand on the shoulder. With your other hand, hold the forearm. Bring arm out to the side to shoulder level. Turn arm

so that the hand points to the ceiling. Then turn arm back down so that hand points to floor and the upper arm is twisting in the shoulder joint.

Following surgery

After shoulder replacement surgery, a patient will need passive exercises. Passive shoulder exercises are started soon after surgery. Patients begin exercising on their own about 3 to 6 weeks after surgery.

Stretching and strengthening exercises are a major part of the rehabilitation program. The success of the operation often depends on the condition of rotator cuff muscles prior to surgery and the degree to which the patient follows the exercise program.

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