Saga of a Shoulder Injury, Con't: How Do You Increase Range of Motion When Your Arm Won’t Budge?

November 1, 2010

Saga of a Shoulder Injury, Continued: How Do You Increase Range of Motion When Your Arm Won’t Budge?

According to the physiotherapist you’re on your way to a full recovery. There’s no longer any organic reason (i.e. inflammation, tissue damage, etc.) for increased movement to irritate your shoulder so you’ve been given you the thumbs up to include more challenging movements in your rehabilitation program. But, after a few weeks of these exercises you still can’t bring your arm past your chin let alone overhead to reach into the cupboard. What are you going to do?

Chances are, even if you’re doing a variety of exercises the strategy for doing all of them is more or less the same; stabilize the trunk and reach with the arm. There’s nothing wrong with this type of exercise but if you’re not progressing it’s time to think outside of the box and find a new approach.

We’ve already determined that reaching up isn’t going to work so how about stabilizing the arm and moving your trunk downward instead? Fasten your arm to the wall or rest it on top of a desk or table and bend your knees. The arm remains where it is and you’re now taking your trunk away from your hand and arm. The brain has no experience with this movement so even though it may feel stiff at first, if you proceed slowly and gently in time you should be able to lengthen your arm overhead.

I know, it sounds bizarre but it works. After my own injury when I was trying to recover my range of motion I experimented a lot with this principle and it eventually allowed me to reach my arm up above my head.

If you have any questions or comments visit me, as feldylady on Twitter or on my Facebook page under Sandra Bradshaw, Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner. 

NEXT WEEK: Another strategy for increased range of motion after a shoulder injury; how to encourage the arm to move across the body to the opposite shoulder. Check in next Monday for more suggestions.


Hi Sandra
i just want to thank you for share your experience.

- Pablo

Feldenkrais®, Feldenkrais Method®, Awareness Through Movement®, and Functional Integration® are registered service marks of the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America. Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner ™ and Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teacher ™ are certification marks of the Feldenkrais Guild®.