The 7 Best Physical Therapy Exercises to Recover from Shoulder Surgery

 woman grabbing shoulder

Shoulders are one of the most significant and complex joint systems in the human body. They allow us to perform a wide range of functions to streamline our daily routine. It's nearly impossible to have a productive day when you’re experiencing nagging shoulder pain. Many patients need surgery or other corrective procedures to recover from shoulder injuries. However, treatment and recovery shouldn’t stop there. 

If you have undergone shoulder surgery for recovering from a problem like impingement syndrome, SLAP tear, shoulder dislocation, rotator cuff repairs, biceps tendon tear, or frozen shoulder, you should seek recovery treatment from a licensed physical therapist! Physical therapists are experts at understanding the natural motion of the human body. They closely monitor pain symptoms and movement and can personalize a course of action to treat shoulder pain at the source!

Your physical therapist will include some efficacious stretching and strengthening exercises that will not only minimize your pain but will also improve function.

Here are several proven modalities that your physical therapist may implement as a part of your rehabilitation.

Exercises for Frozen Shoulder

If you have undergone surgery because of frozen shoulder, then physical therapy exercises can improve your condition quickly. However, before performing any exercises, it's essential to warm up your body. 

According to a Harvard University report, “The best way to do that is to take a warm shower or bath for 10 to 15 minutes.” The increased blood flow and loosening of these muscles, prepare them for action

Other important exercises for recovering from a shoulder surgery include:

  • inward rotation
  • outward rotation
  • finger walks
  • pendulum stretches
  • cross-body reach

Each exercise is designed to emphasize strengthening and improving the range of motion for your shoulder. Be certain to have your physical therapist monitor you performing these exercises first, to ensure you are doing them correctly. In some cases, overstretching muscles may lead to further injury!

Making modest improvements and being mindful that your recovery takes place over time is important to keep in mind to ensure a full recovery.

Exercises to Recover from Rotator Cuff Surgery

A shoulder injury like a torn rotator cuff, can lead to excruciating pain and halt your daily life. It can be difficult to focus on daily activities like cleaning your home, preparing meals, doing dishes, and performing any task using the computer, etc. If you have experienced rotator cuff surgery, seeking the assistance of a physical therapist is vital to long-term recovery.

Some of the most valuable physical therapy exercises for recovering from rotator cuff surgery include:

  • reverse fly
  • high-to-low rows
  • doorway stretches
  • sleeper stretches
  • KB plank drag
  • Turkish get up
  • serratus scoop

However, you must perform these moves in the presence of your physical therapist, initially. This is crucial to avoid reinjuring yourself and prolonging the recovery process.

Exercises for Shoulder Impingement Syndrome Surgery

man touching woman's shoulderShoulder impingement is a common cause of shoulder pain and missed work days. It most commonly occurs in athletes and is a result of increased stress and inflammation of the rotator cuff. If you have received surgery to correct shoulder impingement, it’s highly recommended to seek a licensed physical therapist to assist you in a full recovery. 

There are several exercises a therapist may implement to strengthen your shoulder and increase flexibility following impingement surgery:

  • Prone lift off
  • Extension exercises
  • Wall slides

Exercises for Arthroscopic SLAP Repair Surgery

shoulder pain If you are recovering from SLAP repair surgery, manual therapy is considered as the best option, apart from the specific stretching moves. It is utterly helpful for treating painful joints that result from an injury or a chronic illness.

Your therapist can monitor the functionality of your shoulder to function and will determine an appropriate manual technique to treat it!

According to CT Physical Therapy Care, a physical therapist will examine your ability to function and your range of motion for designing a personalized care plan to strengthen your mobility and relieve shoulder pain. The treatments that your physical therapist will use may include techniques like joint stabilization, strengthening, and stretching, etc. Your therapist might also incorporate heat, and ice and electrical stimulation to reduce your pain.

Exercises for Shoulder Dislocation Surgery

If you have taken surgical treatment for shoulder dislocation, then your therapist may ask you to perform exercises like shoulder flexion, shoulder blade squeeze, internal rotator strengthening exercise, and isometric shoulder abduction, etc. These exercises will help reduce your pain and increase flexibility.

woman grabbing her shoulder

Exercise for AC Joint Repairs

If you have already taken surgical treatment to recover from a problem linked to AC joint, it’s highly recommended to consult one of our physical therapists to achieve a full recovery.

Your therapist will design a postoperative care plan that will include highly effective and personalized exercises to strengthen the ability of your shoulder to function.

Common treatment exercises include:

  • Flexion
  • Extension
  • Internal rotation
  • External rotation
  • Shoulder abduction

Each of these exercises is tailored to improve range of motion for your AC joint.

Exercises for Recovering from Shoulder Replacement Surgery

In some cases, a shoulder injury may be so severe, a patient must receive a full shoulder replacement. For people who have undergone a shoulder replacement surgery, there are several exercises available that can ensure your shoulder continues to function smoothly and without pain:

  • Grip stretching
  • Scapula retraction
  • Supported arm pendulum

There are many other exercises available, however, it’s highly recommended to always consult with a physical therapist or medical professional before participated in any time of rehabilitation exercise.

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