5 Great Rotator Cuff Surgery Recovery Exercises

Recovery from rotator cuff surgery can be improved by engaging in a variety of short, daily exercises. Your surgeon may recommend a specific conditioning program to follow, or you may like to try these exercises at home. Rotator cuff surgery recovery exercises should be first approved by a health professional, as they will only be of benefit if performed correctly.

Remember, the objective is to return to your daily activities and regain full use of your shoulder. Check with your doctor or physical therapist about which exercises will best suited to your particular needs and goals.

These rotator cuff surgery exercises are designed to strengthen the four muscles around your shoulder joint: infraspinatus, subscapularis, the supraspinatus and teres minor. These muscles allow for movement and stability to the area, and must be gently rehabilitated following surgery or injury. Consult your doctor before giving them a go!

  1. Circular Pendulum

Begin by bending forward 90 degrees at the waist. Place your uninvolved hand on a table for support.

Rock your body in a circular pattern so that your arm begins swinging clockwise. Do this for 10 swings, then

stop and repeat 10 times anti-clockwise.

Ensure your arm is relaxed as it swings. You should feel the circular pendulum movement through your shoulder joint. Repeat 3 sessions each day.

  1. Shoulder Forward Elevation (assistance required)

This can be performed either lying down or sitting. Begin by clasping your hands together and lifting your arms above your head. Try to keep your elbows


Keep your arms in this elevation for 10-20 seconds, then slowly lower them.

Gradually increase the degree of elevation over the following days. Do not raise your arms to the point of


Repeat 10-20 times per session and do 3 sessions a day.

  1. Supported Shoulder Rotation (assistance required)

Try to keep your elbows in place and your shoulder blades together. Begin by sliding your forearm back

and forth.

You may like to use a stick or cane initially as this will help with moving your arm outwards. It’s also

important to keep your other elbow at your side.

Repeat this exercise 10 times per session, and do 3 sessions per day.

  1. Internal Shoulder Rotation (assistance required)

NOTE: Check with your surgeon before attempting this exercise, as you may be restricted from performing

certain degrees of outward movement with your affected shoulder.

Begin by using your unaffected hand or a towel to bring your operated shoulder behind your back and

across to the opposite side. Repeat this movement 10x per session, and do 3 sessions per day.

  1. Finger Walk

Stand before a wall or door frame.

Stretch out your fingers as far as is comfortable and touch the wall. Keep your elbows straight.

Walk your fingers slowly up the wall as far as you can reach without pain. Stop, and hold your arm in this

position for 10-20 seconds.

Repeat this exercise 5-10 times per session, and do 3 sessions per day.

When performed correctly, rotator cuff surgery exercises can shorten recovery time and set the stage for your return to normal, everyday activities. As an orthopedic surgeon in Seattle, we know the necessity of maintaining your physical health. If you’re recovering from orthopedic surgery or suffering from shoulder injury pain, contact a shoulder specialist today to get the expert knowledge and help you need!

Skip to content