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March 7, 2023
Author: Shelby
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  • Star Exercise of the Week: Wand Shoulder External Rotation Stretch

In a previous Star Exercise of the Week, we talked about how you can practice a gentle shoulder external rotation stretch using a wall.

You can also do this with a shoulder wand!

The benefit of practicing this tough motion with the shoulder wand is that you can use your better arm to add a little more overpressure during your stretch. It’s more challenging to do this with the wall, as the wall motion primarily involves rotating your torso.

We’re practicing this one with the upper arm by your side, although there is a way to advance it (we’ll get to that another time!). 

The benefit of re-introducing this motion with the upper arm by your side is that it will feel more comfortable for the shoulder and is less aggressive.

This stretching method for shoulder external rotation is very good in the earlier stages of rehab when the shoulder may not be able to tolerate as much right out of the gate.

If you have had a recent surgery, you’ll want to make sure you get the okay from your surgeon and therapist before trying this motion. Depending on the surgery you have, you may need to hold off on this particular direction for a bit until the shoulder has had time to do its initial healing post-op. 


Step 1: Starting Position:

  • Hold the curved end of the wand in the hand of the injured arm, while the opposite hand holds somewhere comfortable on the mid-section of the wand.
  • Position the thumb on the injured side facing up towards the ceiling.
  • Bend the elbow of the injured arm to a 90-degree angle.
  • The upper arm should be tucked by your side.
  • If it feels more comfortable to do so, you can add a towel rolled between your torso and upper arm for additional support.

Step 2: Shoulder External Rotation:

  • Using the healthy arm as the lead, gently push the hand and forearm of the injured arm away from your mid-section (make sure to keep your elbow and upper arm tucked at your side).
  • Only push as far as you can tolerate for a gentle stretch, without causing or increasing pain.
  • Hold this position for up to 5 seconds, then return to your starting position.
  • Repeat 10-15x for 2-3 sets.

While this isn’t necessarily the most comfortable position, please make sure it’s tolerable!

You never want to force a stretch.

Make sure you stay patient with your progress. Slow and steady wins the race!

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About the Author Shelby

Shelby Green is a Florida-licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), currently practicing at St. Anthony’s Resource Center Outpatient Rehabilitation in St. Petersburg, FL. Shelby received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of South Florida, followed by her DPT from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. Shelby has 6 years clinical experience practicing in both the acute care and outpatient rehab settings. Specialties include orthopedics, with additional training in specific manual therapy techniques for pain management, as well as extensive training as a Certified Lymphedema Therapist.

Shelby is a Tampa, FL native, which is where she and her husband currently reside. Their favorite activities include spending time with family and anything outdoors, such as walking, bike riding, and going to the beach.

Medical Disclaimer

This website is intended to provide educational information only and should not be taken as medical advice. The information shared on this website is based on research, but is not intended to replace the advice of a healthcare professional. We recommend that you consult your healthcare provider for any specific questions or concerns you may have. The website does not accept responsibility for any harm that may occur from using the information given on this site. Speak to your medical provider about any health issues!

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