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Exercises for Shoulder Flexibility: Pendulum Exercise

Man leaning over swinging arm in circle doing shoulder exercise.

Improving your flexibility can reduce pain. Stretching exercises also can help increase your range of pain-free motion. Breathe normally when you exercise. And try to use smooth, fluid movements.

Follow any special instructions you are given. If you feel pain, stop the exercise. If the pain continues after stopping, call your healthcare provider.

Here are the steps for the pendulum exercise. Ask your physical therapist to demonstrate the exercise, if needed. 

  • Lean over with your good arm supported on a table or chair. You can sit or stand to do this exercise. Ask your physical therapist which position is best for you.

  • Relax the arm on the painful side, letting it hang straight down.

  • Slowly begin to swing the relaxed arm. Move it in a small circle, gradually making it bigger if you can. Then reverse the direction. Next, move it backward and forward. Finally, move it side to side.

Note: Spend about  5 minutes doing the exercise,  3 times a day. Change direction after  1 minute of motion.

Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Thomas N Joseph MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Trina Bellendir PT
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2020
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