Exercises: Upper Body, Shoulder, Elbow, Hand & Wrist

Exercises: Upper Body, Shoulder, Elbow, Hand & Wrist

 

Exercises for Shoulder Flexibility: Adduction (Reaching Across)

This stretch can help restore shoulder flexibility and relieve pain over time. When stretching, be sure to breathe deeply. And follow any special instructions from your doctor or physical therapist.

  1. Put the hand from the side you want to stretch on your opposite shoulder. Your elbow should point away from your body. Try to raise your elbow as close to shoulder height as you can.

  2. With your other hand, push the raised elbow toward the opposite shoulder. Avoid turning your head. Stop when you feel the stretch. Try to hold the stretch for 5 seconds.

  3. Work up to doing 3 sets of this stretch, 3 times a day. Work up to holding the stretch for 30-60 seconds.

Note: Be sure to push your elbow across your chest, not up toward your chin. Over time, try to push your elbow farther across your chest to enhance the stretch.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is another name for adhesive capsulitis, which causes restricted movement in the shoulder. If you have frozen shoulder, this stretch may cause discomfort, especially when you first get started. A few months may pass before you achieve the results you want. But once your shoulder heals, it almost never becomes frozen again. So stick to your stretching program. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your doctor.

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Exercises for Shoulder Flexibility: Back Scratch

Improving your flexibility can reduce pain. Stretching exercises also can help increase your range of pain-free motion. Breathe normally when you exercise. Try to use smooth, fluid movements. Never force a stretch.

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

  • Stand straight, placing the back of the hand on the side you want to stretch flat against your lower back.

  • Throw one end of a towel over your shoulder. Grab it behind your back with your other hand.

  • Pull down gently on the towel with your front arm. Let your back arm slide up as high as is comfortable. You'll feel a stretch in your shoulder. Hold the stretch for a few seconds.

  • Repeat 3-5 times. Build up to holding each stretch for 10-30 seconds.

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Exercises for Shoulder Flexibility: External Rotation

This stretch can help restore shoulder flexibility and relieve pain over time. When stretching, be sure to breathe deeply. And follow any special instructions from your doctor or physical therapist.

  1. Stand in a doorway. Grasp the doorjamb with the hand on the frozen side. Your arm should be bent.

  2. With the other hand, hold the elbow on the frozen side firmly against your body.

  3. Standing in the same spot, rotate your body away from the doorjamb. Stop when you feel the stretch in the shoulder. Try to hold the stretch for 5 seconds.

  4. Work up to doing 3 sets of this stretch, 3 times a day. Work up to holding the stretch for 30-60 seconds.

Note: Keep your arms as still as you can. Over time, rotate your body a little more to enhance the stretch. But be careful not to twist your back.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is another name for adhesive capsulitis, which causes restricted movement in the shoulder. If you have frozen shoulder, this stretch may cause discomfort, especially when you first get started. A few months may pass before you achieve the results you want. But once your shoulder heals, it almost never becomes frozen again. So stick to your stretching program. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your doctor.

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Exercises for Shoulder Flexibility: Wall Walk

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.

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

  • Stand with your shoulder about 2 feet from the wall.

  • Raise your arm to shoulder level and gently "walk" your fingers up the wall as high as you can.

  • Hold for a few seconds. Then walk your fingers back down.

  • Repeat 3 times. Move closer to the wall as you repeat.

  • Build up to holding each stretch for 30 seconds.

CAUTION: Do this stretch only if your healthcare provider recommends it. Don't do it when you are first injured.

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Hand & Wrist Exercises: Forearm Roll

This exercise is designed to stretch and strengthen your hands and wrists. Before beginning, read through all the instructions. While exercising, breathe normally. If you feel any pain, stop the exercise. If pain persists, inform your healthcare provider.

  • Grasp a hammer or hand weight in your _____ hand. Place your wrist, palm down, over the end of your knee.

  • Keeping your forearm against your thigh, rotate your hand until your palm is up. Hold for _____ seconds. Then return to starting position.

  • Repeat _____ times. Do _____ sets a day.

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Hand & Wrist Exercises: Wrist Flexion

This exercise is designed to stretch and strengthen your hands and wrists. Before beginning, read through all the instructions. While exercising, breathe normally. If you feel any pain, stop the exercise. If pain persists, inform your healthcare provider.

  • Hold your _____ hand in front of you with your palm down and elbow bent.

  • Grasp the back of that hand with your other hand. Pull back so your fingers point down as you straighten your arm. Feel a stretch in your forearm and wrist. Hold for _____ seconds. Then relax.

  • Repeat _____ times. Do _____ sets a day.

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Shoulder Exercises: Biceps Curl

This exercise stretches and strengthens your shoulders. Before starting, read through all the instructions. During the exercise, breathe normally and use smooth movements. Stop if you feel any pain. If pain persists, call your healthcare provider.

  • Hold a ____ pound weight in each hand, with your palms facing your body. Tuck your arms close to your sides.

  • Bend your left elbow and raise the weight to your left shoulder. As you lower that weight, bend your right elbow and raise the weight to your right shoulder. Continue to alternate arms.

  • Repeat ____ times. Do ____ sets____ times a day.

CAUTION: Keep arms close to your body throughout the exercise. Keep your wrists straight.

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Shoulder Exercises: External Rotation

Strengthening exercises help make your injured shoulder more stable. To warm up, do flexibility (stretching) exercises first. Your healthcare provider will tell you what size hand weights to use for the strengthening exercise below. If you don't have hand weights, try using cans of soup instead.

  • Lie on your uninjured side with your head supported by a pillow or your arm. Place a small rolled-up towel under your top elbow.

  • Grasp a hand weight with your top hand and bend that arm to a right angle, resting your forearm against your stomach.

  • Keeping your elbow against the towel, slowly lift the weight until your forearm is slightly higher than your elbow. Return to the starting position. Repeat.

  • Work up to 5-15 lifts.

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Shoulder Exercises: Shoulder Press

This exercise stretches and strengthens your shoulders. Before starting, read through all the instructions. During the exercise, breathe normally and use smooth movements. Stop if you feel any pain. If pain persists, call your healthcare provider.

  • Hold a ____ pound weight in each hand, elbows at shoulder level, palms facing forward.

  • Raise one arm up until it's almost straight. Hold for a second. Lower the weight, extending the other arm up.

  • Repeat ____ times with each arm. Do ____ sets ____ times a day.

CAUTION: If you have shoulder problems, consult your healthcare provider before doing this exercise. Keep your head and body still during the exercise. Only your arms should move.

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Shoulder Exercises: Side Raise

This exercise stretches and strengthens your shoulders. Before starting, read through all the instructions. During the exercise, breathe normally and use smooth movements. Stop if you feel any pain. If pain persists, call your healthcare provider.

  • Stand straight, holding a ____ pound weight in each hand, arms at sides, feet shoulder-width apart.

  • Slowly extend your arms up and out until weights are at shoulder level. Slowly return to starting position.

  • Repeat ____ times. Do ____ sets ____ times a day.

CAUTION: Don't swing the weights or raise weights above shoulder level.

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Shoulder Exercises: Triceps Press

This exercise stretches and strengthens your shoulders. Before starting, read through all the instructions. During the exercise, breathe normally and use smooth movements. Stop if you feel any pain. If pain persists, call your healthcare provider.

  • Grasp a ____ pound weight in each hand. Raise one arm overhead. Hold that arm close to your ear. Bend your elbow and lower the weight behind your head, as far as you can.

  • Slowly straighten your elbow, extending your arm upward. Return to starting position.

  • Repeat ____ times with each arm. Do ____ sets ____ times a day.

CAUTION: Keep your head still and neck straight. Keep your arm close to your ear. Don't arch your back.

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Upper Body Exercises: Chest Press

This exercise stretches and strengthens your upper body. Before starting, read through all the instructions. During the exercise, breathe normally and use smooth movements. Stop if you feel any pain. If pain persists, call your healthcare provider.

  • Hold a ____ pound weight in each hand. Lie on your back on a flat bench with knees bent. Hold your arms straight up with weights in line with your chest.

  • Lower your arms down and out until your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle. Return to starting position.

  • Repeat ____ times. Do ____ sets ____ times a day.

CAUTION: Don't arch your back. Keep your knees bent.

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Hand & Wrist Exercises: Finger Grip & Release

This exercise is designed to stretch and strengthen your hands and wrists. Before beginning, read through all the instructions. While exercising, breathe normally. If you feel any pain, stop the exercise. If pain persists, inform your healthcare provider.

  • With your _____ hand, make a tight fist. (Or you can grasp a sponge or ball.) Hold for _____ seconds. Then relax.

  • Spread your fingers as far apart as possible. Hold for _____ seconds. Then relax.

  • Repeat _____ times. Do _____ sets a day.

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Exercises for Shoulder Flexibility: Pendulum 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.

  • 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. Move it in a circle, then reverse the direction. Then 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.

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Shoulder Exercises: Wall Pushup

Strengthening exercises help make your injured shoulder more stable by making the muscles that support your shoulder stronger. To warm up, do flexibility (stretching) exercises first.

  • With feet and hands shoulder-width apart, place your palms on the wall, standing about an arm's length away.

  • Keeping your knees straight and heels on the floor, bend your elbows and lean forward as far as you comfortably can. Your elbows should be pointing down. Then push away from the wall to the starting position. Repeat.

  • Work up to 15 wall pushups.

Note: Wear shoes that keep you from slipping.

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Exercises for Shoulder Flexibility: Elevation (Reaching Up)

This stretch can help restore shoulder flexibility and relieve pain over time. When stretching, be sure to breathe deeply. And follow any special instructions from your doctor or physical therapist.

  1. Raise the hand on the side you want to stretch as high as you can. Then grasp a stable surface, such as a bookcase or a doorframe, with the same hand.

  2. Keeping your arm straight, lower your body by bending your knees. Stop when you feel the stretch in the shoulder. Try to hold the stretch for 5 seconds.

  3. Work up to doing 3 sets of this stretch, 3 times a day. Work up to holding the stretch for 30-60 seconds.

Note: Your back should remain straight. To enhance the stretch over time, try to bend your knees lower. Or, raise your arm higher at the start of the stretch.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is another name for adhesive capsulitis, which causes restricted movement in the shoulder. If you have frozen shoulder, this stretch may cause discomfort, especially when you first get started. A few months may pass before you achieve the results you want. But once your shoulder heals, it almost never becomes frozen again. So stick to your stretching program. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your doctor.

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Exercises for Shoulder Flexibility: Internal Rotation

This stretch can help restore shoulder flexibility and relieve pain over time. When stretching, be sure to breathe deeply. And follow any special instructions from your doctor or physical therapist.

  1. While seated, move the arm on the side you want to stretch toward the middle of your back. The palm of your hand should face out.

  2. Cup your other hand under the hand that's behind your back. Gently push your cupped hand upward until you feel the stretch in the shoulder. Try to hold the stretch for 5 seconds.

  3. Work up to doing 3 sets of this stretch, 3 times a day. Work up to holding the stretch for 30-60 seconds.

Note: Keep your back straight. It's okay if your hand can't reach the middle of your back. Instead, start the stretch with your hand as close as you can get it to the middle of your back.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is another name for adhesive capsulitis, which causes restricted movement in the shoulder. If you have frozen shoulder, this stretch may cause discomfort, especially when you first get started. A few months may pass before you achieve the results you want. But once your shoulder heals, it almost never becomes frozen again. So stick to your stretching program. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your doctor.

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Exercises for Shoulder Flexibility: Broom Stretch

Improving your flexibility can reduce pain. Stretching exercises also can help increase your range of pain-free motion. Breathe normally when you exercise. Try to use smooth, fluid movements. Never force a stretch.

  • Stand up or lie on the floor. Place the palm of your hand over the end of a broomstick or cane. Grasp the stick farther down with the other hand, palm facing down.

  • Push the end of the stick up on the side of your injured shoulder as high as is comfortable.

  • Hold for a few seconds. Return to the starting position.

  • Repeat 3-5 times. Build up to holding each stretch for 10-30 seconds.

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

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Upper Body Exercises: Chest Fly

This exercise stretches and strengthens your upper body. Before starting, read through all the instructions. During the exercise, breathe normally and use smooth movements. Stop if you feel any pain. If pain persists, call your healthcare provider.

  • Lie face up on a flat bench or on the floor with knees bent. Hold a ____ pound weight in each hand. Extend your arms out to the side, with elbows slightly bent, and palms facing up.

  • Keeping your elbows bent, raise your arms upward until the weights touch. Return to starting position.

  • Repeat ____ times. Do ____ sets ____ times a day.

CAUTION: Work slowly, using controlled movements. Keep your knees bent.

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Upper Body Exercises: Front Raise

This exercise stretches and strengthens your upper body. Before starting, read through all the instructions. During the exercise, breathe normally and use smooth movements. Stop if you feel any pain. If pain persists, call your healthcare provider.

  • Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Hold a ____ pound weight in each hand, with palms facing your body. Extend your arms straight down so the weights touch your thighs.

  • Raise one arm upward to shoulder or eye level. Hold for a second, then lower your arm. As you lower, raise the opposite arm to shoulder or eye level.

  • Repeat ____ times with each arm. Do ____ sets ____ times a day.

CAUTION: Don't swing the weights. Use slow, controlled movements.

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Upper Body Exercises: Upright Row

This exercise stretches and strengthens your upper body. Before starting, read through all the instructions. During the exercise, breathe normally and use smooth movements. Stop if you feel any pain. If pain persists, call your healthcare provider.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grasp a ____ pound weight in front of you with both hands, palms facing the body, and elbows straight.

  • Keep the weight close to your body. Raise the weight along the midline of your body to your collarbone. Your elbows should extend out to the sides. Return to the starting position.

  • Repeat ____ times. Do ____ sets ____ times a day.

CAUTION: If you have shoulder problems, consult your healthcare provider before doing this exercise. If you have a hard time keeping correct form, use a lighter weight.

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Shoulder Exercises: Internal Rotation

Strengthening exercises help make your injured shoulder more stable. To warm up, do flexibility (stretching) exercises first. Your healthcare provider will tell you what size hand weights to use for the strengthening exercise below. If you don't have hand weights, try using cans of soup instead.

  • With knees bent, lie on a firm surface. Using the hand on the same side as your injured shoulder, grasp a weight. Bend that arm to a right angle (90 degrees).

  • Rest your elbow on the floor.

  • Keeping your elbow next to your side, lower your forearm toward the floor, away from your body. Do not lower your hand all the way to the floor.

  • Slowly return your forearm to your side. Repeat.

  • Work up to 5-15 lifts.

Note: Support your head and neck with a pillow.


Preventing Falls: Exercises to Improve Balance, Flexibility, Strength, & Staying Power

Certain types of exercises may help make you less likely to fall. Try the ones below. Or do other exercises that your healthcare provider suggests. Depending on your health, you may need to start slowly. Don't let that stop you. Even small amounts of exercise can help you. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.

Improve Balance

Many types of exercise can help improve balance. Tai chi and yoga are good examples. Here's another one to try. You can do it anytime and almost anywhere.

  • Stand next to a counter or solid support.

  • Push yourself up onto your tiptoes.

  • Hold for 5 seconds. If you start to lose your balance, hold on to the counter.

  • Rest and repeat 5 times. Work up to holding for 20 to 30 seconds, if you can.

Increase Flexibility

Being more flexible makes it easier for you to move around safely. Try exercises like the seated hamstring stretch.

  • Sit in a chair and put one foot on a stool.

  • Straighten your leg and reach with both hands down either side of your leg. Reach as far down your leg as you can.

  • Hold for about 20 seconds.

  • Go back to the starting position. Then repeat 5 times. Switch legs.

Build Strength

"Resistance" exercises help build strength. You can do them without equipment. Or you can use weights, elastic bands, or special machines. One such exercise is called the biceps curl. You can hold a 1 pound weight or even a can of soup. Do this exercise at least 3 times a week. Strive for every day.

  • Sit up straight in a chair.

  • Keep your elbow close to your body and your wrist straight.

  • Bend your arm, moving your hand up to your shoulder. Then slowly lower your arm.

  • Repeat 5 times. Switch to the other arm.

Build Your Staying Power

"Aerobic" exercises make your heart and lungs stronger so you can keep moving longer. Walking and swimming are two of the best types of exercises you can do. Using a stationary bike is great, too. Find an aerobic exercise that you enjoy. Start slowly and build up. Even 5 minutes is helpful. Aim for a goal of 30 minutes, at least 3 times a week. You don't have to do 30 minutes in one session. Break it up and walk a little throughout the day.

More Helpful Tips

  • Start easy. Slowly work up to doing more.

  • Talk with your healthcare provider about the best exercises for you.

  • Call senior centers or health clubs about exercise programs.

  • If needed, have a family member watch you walk every so often to check your stability.

  • Exercise with a friend. Choose an activity you both enjoy.

  • Try exercises that you can do anytime, anywhere. Here are two examples. Have someone with you when you first try these.

    • Practice walking by placing one foot right in front of the other.

    • Stand up and sit down 10 times. Repeat this throughout the day.