Dislocated Shoulder Mobility Exercises

Mobility exercises which form part of a dislocated shoulder rehabilitation program.

The following guidelines are for information purposes only. We recommend seeking professional advice before beginning rehabilitation. It is very important to avoid any movement that combines moving the arm upwards, out to the side and rotated back (lateral rotation and abduction) as this is the position a dislocated shoulder is most vulnerable.


Pendulum exercises

  • Gently swing the arm forwards, backwards and sideways whilst leaning forwards.
  • Gradually increase the range of motion
  • All exercises should be pain free
  • Aim to reach 90 degrees of motion in any direction


Assisted exercises

Once the shoulder has started to heal, your therapist may start you doing active assisted exercises. This involves you using your good arm to assist the injured arm through the range of movement. Some good examples of this include:

Abduction / Adduction

  • Holding onto a broomstick with both hands shoulder width apart
  • Using the good arm, push the injured arm out to the side, and back towards the body.
  • This should be performed in both directions, taking the injured arm across the body and away from the body (adduction/abduction)

Flexion / Extension

  • Lying on your back or seated in a chair, grip the hand of your injured side with the good side
  • Slowly and gently bring the arms up and towards your head, and if you feel comfortable, over the head If at any time you feel like the shoulder is going to pop out, stop and return to the resting position


  • Using the broomstick, this time keep your elbows into your side
  • Allow the stick to move to the left and right in front of you, rotating the shoulder joint

Active exercises

These involve using your muscles against gravity and work towards gaining full use of the shoulder and should cover all the movements at the shoulder joint.

  • Flexion - Lift the arm in front of you & above the head
  • Extension - Move the arm out behind out
  • Abduction - Take the arm away from the body to the side and up above the head Adduction - Move the arm across the body Internal
  • Rotation - Keep the elbow bent by your side, turn the forearm in so that your wrist touches your stomach
  • External Rotation - Keep the elbow bent by your side, turn the forearm outwards so that your hand points away from you

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