Open a PDF version to print this topic

HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Upper limb strengthening exercises

Start the following exercises if and when your physiotherapist says you can. Your physiotherapist may give you other exercises to do as well.

Unless your physiotherapist says otherwise, follow the instructions below for how many times to repeat each exercise and how many times a day to do it. Do the exercises with your affected limb.

If you have any questions or problems with the exercises, see your physiotherapist.

Photo of a fist clenched

Photo of a person's hand, palm up then palm down

Hand exercise

  • Clench and release your fist to reduce swelling.
  • Repeat 10 times every hour.

Palm turning exercise

  • Turn your palm up and down keeping your elbow still.
  • Repeat 10 times, 3 times a day.

 

Image of a person with their arm out straight, bending their wrist forward then backwards.

Photo of a person with their arm by their side then using their good hand to bend their elbow and lift their forearm up to their shoulder

Wrist bending exercise

  • Bend your wrist backwards and forwards.
  • Repeat 10 times, 3 times a day.

Elbow bending and straightening exercise

  • Straighten and bend your elbow.
  • Repeat 10 times, 3 times a day.

 

Image showing a person standing and swinging their arm forward and backwards

Image showing a person standing and swinging their arm in a circle

Pendular exercise 1

  • Standing up, hold on to a table with your good arm.
  • Lean forward and let your affected arm dangle down straight.
  • Swing your arm backwards and forwards 10 times, then side to side 10 times.
  • Repeat 10 times, 3 times a day.

Pendular exercise 2

  • Standing up, hold on to a table with your good arm.
  • Lean forward and let your affected arm dangle down straight.
  • Move your arm in a clockwise circle 10 times, then anti-clockwise 10 times.
  • Repeat 10 times, 3 times a day.

 

Image showing a person standing with their affected elbow bent and arm across the front of their body with the unaffected hand supporting the affected elbow, then raising the affected arm and lowering it down.

Image showing a person's back with arrows indicating how they bring their shoulders back and together

Shoulder exercise

  • Support the elbow of your affected arm with your other hand, as though you are cradling a baby.
  • Lift your arm to the height your physiotherapist tells you, ensuring you keep supporting your affected arm.
  • Lower your arm.
  • Repeat 10 times, 3 times a day.

Shoulder blade exercise

  • Bring your shoulder blades back and together.
  • Make sure you keep your shoulders down and they do not hunch up.
  • Hold for three to five seconds then relax.
  • Repeat 10 times, 3 to 4 times a day.

 

Written by Physiotherapy Department, Christchurch Hospital. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created October 2023.

Sources

Page reference: 1047038

Review key: HISTE-1046924