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Shoulder Abduction - Self Passive or Active Assisted Range of Motion Print


Purpose:   This exercise maintains shoulder joint integrity.  It is ideal when only one arm is affected.  This activity is not meant to strengthen the muscles, but to prevent shoulder muscle shortening and joint stiffness that may lead to a debilitating loss of mobility.   When done passively, this activity may be applicable in the early to mid phases of rotator cuff repair rehabilitation and to decrease shoulder stiffness from disuse.  Performing this exercise as an active assisted range of motion may be applicable during the mid to late phases of rehabilitation after shoulder injury.  This means that your affected side performs the movement slightly or as tolerated, while being mostly assisted by the strong side.  This movement activates your shoulder girdle muscles.  Please consult your rehabilitation professional prior to engaging in this exercise.


Instructions:  (In this picture, the hand holding the upper tip of the umbrella represents the weak side.)

1.  With your arms by your side, hold one end of a dowel (umbrella, cane, bar) with your strong hand.  With the palm face up, hold the other end of the dowel with your weak-side hand at a shoulder width apart (or slightly more) from the other.  

2.  Using the strength of the unaffected arm, push the dowel towards affected side, consequently elevating the weak shoulder away from the body as high up as you can.  To perform the exercise as an active assist, you may engage the affected shoulder as tolerated (or as prescribed) during the rotation. 

3. After holding a few seconds to stretch at end range, slowly bring the dowel back to starting position. 


Perform ________________sets of ________________repetitions.  Perform _________times / day.


Precaution/Special notes: Perform this activity only under the advise of your physical/occupational therapist or orthopedic doctor.  Do not perform this exercise to the point of pain.  STOP this exercise when pain is felt.  Do not perform this exercise when shoulder instability is experienced or when shoulder pain is present.  For post-surgical conditions, please consult your medical /rehabilitation professionals at all times.




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