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Up-the-back shoulder stretch

Your doctor or physical therapist may advise you to wait to do this stretch until you have regained most of your range of motion and strength.

  1. Stand or sit up straight. If you're standing, keep your feet about hip-width apart.
    1. Light stretch: Put the hand of your affected arm in your back pocket (palm outward). Let it rest there to stretch your shoulder.
    2. Moderate stretch: With your other hand, hold your affected arm (palm outward) behind your back by the wrist. Pull your arm up gently to stretch your shoulder.
    3. Advanced stretch: Put a towel over your other shoulder. Put the hand of your affected arm behind your back. Now hold the back end of the towel. With the other hand, hold the front end of the towel in front of your body. Pull gently on the front end of the towel. This will bring your hand farther up your back to stretch your shoulder.
  2. Hold any of these stretches for at least 15 to 30 seconds.
  3. Repeat 2 to 4 times.
  4. If you can, repeat these steps for your other shoulder.

Current as of: July 18, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.


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