The first two sessions of physical therapy following the healing of my shoulder fracture consisted of a variety of stretches, but the next two sessions also featured some strength training.  What a welcome activity!  The muscles in my left arm and back had atrophied while the shoulder was immobilized and had hardly any power of movement.  Because I wasn’t allowed to lift weights yet, I had no idea how to build up these weak muscles.  Here’s what the physical therapist, Jeremy Zell, had me do:  Using rubber tubing, I kept my elbow at my side and rotated my arm outward away from my body, 3 sets of 10 repetitions.  Next, using the rubber tubing, I kept my elbow at my side while rotating my arm inward across my body, again 3 sets of 10 repetitions.  It felt so good to use these muscles again!

During the extreme stretch segment of therapy, Jeremy stretched and massaged muscles that had been spasming, so that the shoulder would continue to stretch farther and farther.  He said he was pleased with my progress.  I’m pleased, too!  After the first four sessions (out of 12), I can already cut meat at dinner, wash dishes, and even put my earrings on all by myself!  These sound like simple tasks, but not after you’ve fractured your shoulder in four places.  It won’t be long before I can drive again…and go boogie boarding!

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19 Comments on Physical Therapy for Shoulder Range of Motion: Sessions 3 & 4

  1. Amanda says:

    I too have found this website invaluable after suffering a proximal humerus fracture x 3 exactly 6 weeks ago today. Thankyou! Some of the fractures were displaced but luckily it doesn’t look like I’ll have to have surgery as the X-ray at 2 week and 4 weeks showed they hadn’t moved – despite a trip walking upstairs! I started PT at 4.5 weeks but there was very little movement. I then slipped in the shower and it hurt but seemed to release something and gave me some movement (I lifted my air up to grab the shelf to stop me from falling). I’ve had no pain from this slip since so I’m hoping my next X-ray in one week will confirm that no muscle/tendon damage has been done.

    Ive suffered with extreme swelling around my elbow though which restricts me straightening my arm. I’m doing stretch exercises recommend by therapist which are helping range of movement but not reducing swelling. I’m notw trying pure aloe Vera on it but it still throbs. Any ideas anyone?

    I’ve managed to sleep lying down for last two nights but not very successfully and find more comfort in a half sitting position. I seem to have developed insomnia too!! Haven’t started with the itching yet so I guess that’s yet to come, and something to look forward to. I too, like someone else am so paranoid that I’ll re-break it as I don’t have much callous yet. I wonder if I’m been over cautious but then worry I’m doing too much! I’ve started preparing meals, laundry, loading dishwasher, mopping with one arm etc

    The pain is now bearable and more of an ache every now and then. When does that stop? My arm is still tender and swollen. When does that disappear?

    I’ve received mixed messages from medics about my sling – so not sure if I should be taking it off yet. I’ve gone for “middle of the road” and wear it half the day and take it off for a few hours.

    I’ve got a few little tips that I’d like to share for anyone reading this, if that’s ok

    1. If you don’t have a recliner or can’t get one, invest in an inflatable neck pillow (like you get for the plane).
    2. Invest in some good box sets. I virtually did not move for the first 2 weeks
    3. If you don’t have a downstairs toilet, invest in a she-wee for the first few days
    4. I couldn’t cope with not shaving under my arms but physically couldn’t do it. Hair removal cream worked a treat.
    5. Invest in a bath mat for the shower to avoid slipping!
    6. I found with food that my body told me what it needed and I’ve been eating foods I don’t normally. Listen to your body
    7. I found vest tops easiest to get on or baggy tshirts – and then threw a poncho over the top. It’s winter in England!

    I hope some of this may be helpful to anyone else who finds themselves with a broken shoulder!!

    Thank you again

  2. Kat says:

    Great article! You were right on target with everything I’ve experienced in the last 6 wks. Now Physical Therapy and I am terrified. I am still in so much pain I can’t imagine more. If the break is healed where is the pain coming from?

  3. carol talbot says:

    I am disable can wark about 150yds left .wrist fures l have brokon my right arm in 4places at the top

  4. Dale Zimmer says:

    Today is four weeks since I broke my shoulder, didn’t require surgery my Dr started pt at week two I was so scared it would be to soon but now I guess they want to get range of motion back otherwise frozen shoulder would happen. I found the spasm across the top of my back was as painful as the fracture still struggling with that . I am 62 and this is my first break I think I have been using the arm to much not sure if thats ok. but its my right side.

  5. Grace White says:

    It is so encouraging to read your story and the comments of others.

  6. Kathy says:

    Hi, Carla. How is your shoulder therapy coming along? I hope you are seeing your range of motion increasing and that you are taking the time to celebrate each bit of progress. What are you able to do today that you could not do last week or last month? You are a miracle by birth and a miracle in the making! I’m praying for you.

    God bless you,

  7. carla G says:

    I too sustained a fractured shoulder and just now found your blog while looking for some ideas on exercises to try. I started PT this week and have been very discouraged because I cannot vdo all the exercises the reccomended 3×10 and my biggest fear is that somehow I will re-break the shoulder even though the therapist assured me that would not happen!! The pain is so intense that I am tempted not to do anything but I know I must persevere if I want a good outcome. Hopefully the PT will be succesful as my orthopedic dr, has not ruled out the possibility of surgery. Wish I had seen your recliner solution 6 weeks ago..Ive slept poorly flat on my back for 6 weeks!!!


  8. Kathy says:

    Hi, Barb. You’re going into physical therapy with a GREAT attitude, and that makes all the difference. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it! I’ll keep you in prayer for a complete recovery of your range of motion.

    Praying God’s blessings for you along the way,

  9. Barb Oathes says:

    Thank goodnesss I stumbled upon this website! I’ve been feeling just awful because it’s so dif to lift my arm … in fact, I can only go 1/2 way. Will soon be starting phys therapy & look fwd to it (I THINK!!??) Fell on a cement floor in a bldg … didn’t see a hose that was stretched from 1 side to the other ~ OUCHIE!!! Wd rather hve SEVERAL teeth pulled out w/o novacaine!!! Well, you know what I mean! ;>D LOVE all the comments w/exception of hang gliding ~ Thank you f/info & a speedy recovery to all!

  10. Kathy says:

    Hi, Wendy. I’m glad you’re recovering well. Yes, raising my arms was difficult for a long time. As the months went by and I kept working at it, my range of motion improved. Eventually, I joined Planet Fitness, just to be able to hang from the bars and stretch my shoulder to the max! By a year, I pretty much had full mobility, and I bet you will, too! 🙂

    God bless you,

  11. Wendy Pemberton says:

    I thank you for your thoughts. I broke my shoulder in Jan. a plate and 9 screws.
    I can do just about everything like do my hair agAin, eat , cut and so on. It is amazing how much you appreciate the little things you get back slowly.
    Did you have a hard time raising your arm?bit has been 2 1/2 months and icannot raise my arm up too far. Any suggestions to release the shoulder muscles. I do my pulley every day. My doctor says I need to go hang gliding.
    Thank you

  12. mary jane says:

    thanks for the info ,and your prayers

    Mary Jane

  13. mary jane says:


    where do you buy your calcium? I have not heard of the brand. I Enjoyed your blog, I too have a broken humerous bone.

    • Kathy says:

      Hi, Mary Jane. At the time I broke my arm, I was taking a liquid calcium-magnesium supplement that I bought from Whole Family Health Care in Winter Park. Now I take Garden of Life’s Grow Bone System, which is available online from and others, as well as from my local health food store. I will keep you in prayer for a speedy recovery from your fracture.

      God bless you,

  14. Kathy says:

    Isn’t chiropractic WONDERFUL? I, too, had chiropractic adjustments while I was recovering from my shoulder fracture, and they made a tremendous difference in my comfort level.

    33 degrees below zero! I live in Florida, and the high is going to be 60 today–which I thought of as rather cold until I read your comment. I love the hot, humid 90’s!

    God bless you and keep you, Linda, as you recover your strength and mobility.

  15. LindaVance says:

    I fell in my old apt bathtub 3 1/2weeks ago on January 16th before I got got to move down to main floor into another big apt due to mobility issues ive had it with dealing with my shoulder being out
    if it wasnt for the Chiropractor Dr.GaryPotter I would be in more trouble with my left shoulder I sleep with the Imbolizer on Our weather is -33below outside up here In International Falls,Mn We’re 6blocks from the Canandian Border

  16. Barbara J says:


    Congratulations on your full recovery!

    I broke my shoulder in 3 places 23 days ago. I happened onto your website about three days after the accident and it has been so beneficial to me. You give me hope for a full recovery and help me overcome the negative people who are all full of doom and gloom and tell me that I will never be the same.

    Thank you so much for taking time to chronicle your recovery path–you’ve given everyone who is going through the anguish of a broken shoulder much to look forward to.

    May you enjoy continued excellent health!

    Barbara J

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you, Barbara, for your encouraging comments! What joy you’ve added to my day! Though I’m sorry to hear of your fracture, I’m glad that you are making progress and feel a sense of real hope. You know, I did so much stretching to ensure that I would regain full mobility of my broken shoulder that it is now more limber than the shoulder I didn’t break! I will keep you in my prayers for a full recovery, too.

      God bless you,

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