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Due to the inherently unstable joint structure of the shoulder, it relies heavily on the rotator cuff and surrounding musculature. The following exercises involve both external and internal rotation of the shoulder. Under the guidance of your treating Physiotherapist these can be advanced as strength improves.

Instructions: Theraband

  • Position yourself with the elbow tucked into the side body
  • Open through the chest
  • Thumb directed towards the roof
  • Position the affected arm furthest away from the resistance band
  • Maintaining the above position, move the forearm away from the belly button
  • Control the return to the belly
  • Repeat as per Physiotherapists guidelines

Variation – Bilateral:

  • This exercise can be completed in sitting or standing
  • Ensure that the head is stacked above the pelvis in an upright position and the chest is open
  • Take the resistance band prescribed with both hands in a ‘thumbs up’ position
  • The band should be taut
  • Position the elbows by the side and pull the band apart, drawing the shoulder blades together
  • Maintain the 90 degree bend at the elbow
  • Slowly return to the start position and repeat as per Physiotherapists guidelines


  • Maintain an upright posture keeping the shoulders open
  • Control the return of the band, ensuring that it doesn’t ‘snap’ back to the start position

Variation – Theraband Supported

  • Sit next to a table with your elbow and hand resting on the table surface inline but below your shoulder height.
  • Holding a theraband tied in front of you, lift your hand up towards the ceiling while keeping your elbow in contact with the table.
  • Return your hand slowly to the table surface.
  • Repeat as prescribed by your physiotherapist.


  • Stop this exercise if this exacerbates your pain.
  • Speak to your physiotherapist prior to performing this exercise if you have had a history of shoulder dislocations prior to attempting this exercise.

Variation – Dumbbell Supported:

  • Come into sitting with the chest open and head stacked above the pelvis
  • Position the target limb on a bench at 90 degrees with the wrist on a forward diagonal
  • Utilise a hand weight prescribed or a theraband anchored in front of you
  • Pull the weight back to position the wrist above the elbow
  • Return to the start position with control
  • Repeat as per Physiotherapists guidelines

Variation – Dumbbell Supported 2:

  • Come to a semi – seated position as shown in the video, with the arm you are wanting to train on the same sided knee
  • Hold onto the weight/dumbbell prescribed by your physiotherapist
  • The elbow should not move off from leaning on the knee
  • From this position, keep your elbow in a 90 degree angle
  • Bring the back of your hand and weight up towards the roof, this will perform the external rotation movement
  • Return to the starting position and repeat as per physiotherapist guideline

Variation – Dumbbell Side Lying:

  • Come to a side-lying position with the affected side on top
  • Using the prescribed weight/dumbbell, let your hand rest across the stomach with the elbow in a 90 degree position
  • Keep your arm tucked into the side of the body
  • Bring the back of your hand up towards the roof as we work into external rotation of the shoulder
  • Return to the starting position and repeat as per physiotherapist instruction

Variation – Theraband Unsupported:

  • Anchor the resistance band in front of you at the level of the shoulders
  • Take the band with the target limb and step to the side- towards the band
  • Hold the shoulder in a 90 degree angle, with the elbow bent so the wrist is in front of the elbow
  • Pull the resistance band back so the wrist moves from chest height to directly above the elbow
  • Return to the start position with control
  • Repeat as per Physiotherapists instructions

Variation – Dumbbell Unsupported:

  • Using a hand weight at a load that has been prescribed, come into the above position
  • The weight will stack directly above the elbow with the elbow in line with the shoulder
  • To move into external rotation: move from the above position back using the muscles through the shoulder blade
  • Repeat as per Physiotherapists guidelines