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Pendulum Exercise for Use with Shoulder Repair Surgeries

Stretching exercises for your shoulder, such as the pendulum exercise, can improve flexibility, increase range of motion, and reduce pain. Your doctor or physical therapist has recommended the pendulum exercise to help speed your recovery. Remember to breathe normally when you exercise and try to use smooth, fluid movements.

Man leaning over with back straight, supporting himself on back of chair with one hand. Other arm is hanging from shoulder with arrows showing arm moving in circle.

Doing the Pendulum Exercise

  • Follow any special instructions you were given. If you feel pain, stop the exercise. If the pain continues after stopping, call your doctor or physical therapist.

  • Start pendulum exercises with your affected arm as soon as directed by your doctor:

    • Lean over with your good arm supported on a table or chair.

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

    • Slowly begin to swing the relaxed arm by moving your body. Move it in a circle, then reverse the direction. Next, move the arm backward and forward. Finally, move it side to side.

    • Let gravity gently sway your arm. Do not actively lift or move it with your shoulder muscles.

    • Do the exercise 3 times a day, for 5 to 10 minutes each time or as directed by your doctor. Change the direction of your movement after 1 minute of motion.

Home Care

  • Wear your sling as directed.

  • Use pain medication as directed by your doctor.


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.


When to Seek Medical Attention

Call 911 right away if you have:

  • Chest pain.

  • Shortness of breath.

Otherwise, call your doctor immediately if you have:

  • Fever of 100.4°F  (38.0°C) or higher, or shaking chills.

  • Increasing shoulder pain.

  • Pain that is not relieved by medication.

  • Pain or swelling in the arm on the side of your surgery.

  • Numbness, tingling, or blue-gray color of your arm or fingers on the side of your surgery.

  • Increased swelling or redness around the incision.

  • Drainage or oozing around the incision.

Online Medical Reviewer: Bellendir, Trina, MSPT, CLT
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 7/28/2013
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