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Can I start exercises prior to arthroscopic shoulder surgery?

Performing strengthening and range-of-motion exercises to prepare for surgery is commonly known as “prehab.” This concept can be applied to almost any joint, and it involves gaining full range of motion and as much strength around the joint as possible before surgery. This increase in range of motion and strength helps the surgeon and the patient.

For the shoulder specifically, you should begin gentle stretching of the joint in all directions, striving for full, pain-free range of motion before your surgery date. To increase shoulder flexion, walk your fingers up a wall with your arm stretched out directly in front of you. To increase extension, hold a broomstick in the injured hand. Using the uninjured hand, push the broomstick and injured hand back behind the body as far as comfortably possible.

Strengthening exercises can be done with traditional strength training equipment, such as dumbbells, or with resistance bands. Increasing the strength of the rotator cuff (a group of four muscles that surround and provide stabilization to the shoulder) and the deltoid muscle can be performed by simply moving the shoulder through each range of motion with a resistance band. “Prehab” should be directed by an appropriate healthcare provider upon referral by the surgeon.

This answer provided for NATA by the King College Athletic Training Education Program.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.