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Improving shoulder pain

 Many stroke survivors develop shoulder pain. You can try these simple exercises to lessen the pain.

This pain is called shoulder subluxation or separation and is where the shoulder joint slides partially out of place, causing the shoulder to droop.

Note: Start slowly to avoid making it worse. Always check with your therapist before doing these -- or any -- exercises.
Here is a video of simple arm exercises:


Try these exercises with little or no weights:

1. Scapular retraction. With arms at your sides, pinch shoulder blades together:
2. Scapular protraction. Holding light weights, try to push arms up toward ceiling. Keep your elbows straight and your back against the floor:

3. Vertical raises. Lying on your stomach with the your arm off the edge of a bed or table, slowly raise your arm backward, hold, and return:

4. Prone rowing. Lying on your stomach with the your arm off the edge of a bed or table, slowly raise your elbow as high as possible, hold, and return. Hold a light weight if possible:

Here are some one-sheet posters the you can click and then print:

  • Exercises for getting your shoulder back in shape:
click & print

  • Exercises for your elbow:
click & print
  • Shoulder exercises for shoulder separation:
click & print

Frozen shoulder is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in your shoulder. Some stroke survivors develop it by having their arm in a sling for a long period of time or immobilized in a specific position for a prolonged period. Treatment for frozen shoulder usually involves stretching exercises
  • To deal with frozen shoulder:
click & print
click & print

In addition to some light weights for the above exercises, you can also buy a door pulley and some special rubber bands in order to perform the additional exercises below.

You can try these simple exercises with these pulleys and bands to strengthen your shoulders:
A. External rotation:

B. Internal rotation:

C. Flexion: Pull down on the pulley with your good arm. This will lift your affected arm up. Pull it as high as you can without pain. Hold. Relax and repeat.

E. Abduction: Sit so that your affected arm is closest to the door. Pull down on the pulley with your good arm to raise your other arm up as high as possible without pain. Hold. Relax and repeat.

E. Horizontal abduction: