PT on the Net Research

Shoulder Abduction


I have a 70-year-old client. She does not have much range in her shoulder abduction. Her doctor has said her rotator cuff was torn and not properly rehabilitated. He has said he could replace her shoulder, which would help with the pain, but it would not increase her mobility. I need to talk to the doctor, of course, but are there any stretches/exercises I can do with her?


You are right to speak to your clients doctor about this issue. Our Research Team can only address questions that seek to educate, not diagnose and/or prescribe a client problem.

Generally speaking, if the client is restricted in shoulder abduction, the adductors - mainly the pectoralis major/minor and anterior deltiod - need to be lengthened followed by intrinsic (little muscles) stabilization training. However, the soft tissue technique applied depends on many different assessment factors.

Our suggestion is to talk to the doctor first and then suggest your client consult with a physical therapist if she has not already done so. He or she should be able to prescribe exercise and stretching guidelines that will help your client. Also, please search the Exercise & Flexibility Library for exercises and/or stretches that will increase your client's shoulder flexibility. (Search under Muscle Group "Shoulders" and Modality "Flexibility.")