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March 7, 2023
Author: Shelby
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  • Star Exercise of the Week: Shoulder Abduction with a Wand

We’ve previously talked about how a shoulder wand can be a great tool to help regain full shoulder range of motion. 

Shoulder recovery will usually require a transition and progression from improving passive range of motion, to active assisted range of motion, to active range of motion. 

Regaining full motion in each of these categories is important to properly rehab the shoulder and avoid a prolonged recovery time.

The motion of abduction occurs when you reach the arm out to the side, away from midline. 

This is actually one of the toughest directions to recover after a shoulder injury or surgery, and tends to cause the most pain and discomfort. 

Don’t worry though! Regaining full shoulder abduction is fully achievable, it just might take a little time.

We’ll take a look today at how to perform an active assisted range of motion exercise to improve shoulder abduction using a shoulder wand. 

You can perform this motion while laying down or upright.

Here we go!


Step 1: The Set Up:

Laying Down:

You can lay down on the floor, your bed or the couch. Whichever is easiest for you!

  • On your back, position the legs so that the knees are bent and the feet are flat on the surface (this will help support the back).
  • Hold the wand with the hands on the ends of the wand. 
  • The arms should be stretched in front of you.



You can be seated or standing for this position.

  • Sit or stand with a nice, upright posture.
  • Hold the wand with the hands on the ends of the wand.
  • The arms should be stretched in a downward position.


Step 2: Shoulder Abduction with the Wand:

Laying Down:

  • Using the non-injured arm to lead the movement, slowly begin pushing the injured arm out to the side.
  • Continue this movement, creating an arc, up and around moving towards the head
  • Only move the arm as far as the injured shoulder is comfortable with (don’t push into pain!).
  • Hold at the top of the motion for up to 2 seconds, then slowly return to your starting position.


  • Just like the laying down position, use the non-injured arm to lead the injured side.
  • Slowly push the injured arm out to the side, continuing upward towards the ceiling and then arching towards the head.
  • Hold up to 2 seconds at the top of the motion, then return to your starting position.

Seems pretty simple!

A couple tips to keep in mind:

1.    Make sure your injured shoulder stays down during the motion, and doesn’t try to hike up.

2.    Allow the non-injured side to assist as much as you need it to.


Once you can achieve full range of motion with the wand without pain and little use of the wand, you’ll be ready to move on to active range of motion!

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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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