Whether or not you have surgery, your ideal recovery depends on restoring your shoulder’s function. To build flexibility and strength, you need to exercise your rotator cuff muscles – not just during your recovery, but also in the future. Your orthopedist or physical therapist will tell you if you need more or different exercises than those shown here, how often you should do them and where to get the best kind of tubing or hand weights.


The exercises below are just a tiny selection of the kind of work you may be required to do depending on your injury.

Please ask your Therapist before attempting any of them.

Restore Your Flexibility with Stretching

Back Scratcher

1: Stand straight, with the back of your hand on your injured side held flat across your back.

2: With your ‘good’ hand, throw one end of a towel over your good shoulder and grab it with the hand behind your back.

3: Pull gently on the towel with your good arm, raising your injured arm as high as you can comfortably. Hold for 5 seconds, then release slowly. Repeat 5-10 times.

Pretzel Twist

1: Reach your injured arm over your good shoulder. With your good hand, gently pull your injured elbow towards your good side. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times.

2: Reaching behind your head with your injured arm repeat the exercise 3-5 times.

3: Reaching your injured arm behind your back, clasp your hands together and repeat the exercise 3-5 times

Wall Walk

1: Stand with your injured shoulder about 2 feet from a wall.

2: Keeping your shoulders level, gently walk your fingers up the wall as high as you can.

3: Hold for a few seconds, then walk them back down. Repeat 5 times.

4: Step closer to the wall and keeping your arm straight, repeat the exercise 5 times.


Restore Your Power with Strengthening


1: Lie on your good side, with your head supported by your arm or a pillow.

2: Grasp a hand weight or a can of soup in front of you. Bend your elbow to 90 degrees (L-shaped), keeping your upper arm and elbow against your side.

3: Slowly life the weight until your forearm is parallel to the floor, then slowly lower the weight.

4: Repeat 5-15 times (1 set). Try to do 2-3 sets.


Taffy Pull

1: Attach rubber tubing to a poll or door jamb. Grasp the tubing with the hand on your injured side and stand away from the door so the tubing is tight.

2: Stand sideways to the poll or door, with your arm against your side and your elbow at 90 degrees (L-shaped), rotate your forearm across your chest.

3: Slowly return to the starting position and repeat 5-15 times (1 set). Try to do 2-3 sets



1: Stand with your arms at your sides, holding a hand weight or a can of soup in each hand. With your elbow straight, turn your arms in so your thumbs point towards the floor.

2: Keeping your thumbs pointed towards your little toes, lift your arms to waist level and slightly forward.

3: Slowly lower your arms and repeat 5-15 times (1 set). Try to do 2-3 sets