A brachial plexus injury is an injury to the nerves that travel from your neck down to your arms, according to the University of Michigan Health System. The nerves linked to your spinal cord that allow your limbs to move and have sensation are called peripheral nerves. These peripheral nerves make up your brachial plexus. Exercise can help to strengthen and rehabilitate a brachial plexus injury. You should always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program to rehabilitate your brachial plexus injury.
The Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma (NISMAT) recommends stretching the back of the neck. If you have a brachial plexus injury, you need to be able to regain full range of motion in your neck. Not being able to move your neck from side to side, look over your shoulder and extend your head backwards can result in a chronic stiff neck. A stiff neck needs to be resolved before returning to any physical activities. This exercise should be completed seated and by leaning up against a wall. Use the arm on the side with the brachial plexus injury. Turn your head away from the side with the pain and tightness. Keep your hand (on the injured side) behind your head to help stabilize. Take a deep breath. You should slowly exhale while bending your knees, keeping your elbow against the wall. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat for one set of 10 repetitions daily.
A shoulder shrug can be completed standing or seated. You should stand or sit with your head straight and your chin slightly lifted. According to Summit Medical Group, shrug your shoulders in an upward motion. You should hold your shoulders as high as you can for about three seconds. Relax and repeat this exercise for one set of 10 repetitions.
The Summit Medical Group recommends standing or sitting so that you have enough room to fully extend your arms to the side. Sit or stand up tall with your arms at your sides. Inhale and exhale. While exhaling, lift your arms directly out from your sides. Keep your arms lifted until your hands are reaching toward the ceiling. Your arms should be situated directly above your shoulders. Hold this position for about five seconds. You should repeat this exercise 10 times.
The University of Michigan Health System's Brachial Plexus Program indicates that isometric exercises can help build up neck muscles, which will help to rehabilitate a brachial plexus injury. You should use the palm side of your hand to provide resistance while performing these exercises. By lightly applying resistance, move your head to the front, back and sides. You should push in the direction of the resistance. Hold each position for 15 seconds. Complete three sets for each position.
- University of Michigan Health System-Adult Brachial Plexus Program: Brachial Plexus Injury
- The Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma: Physical Therapy Corner: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
- Summit Medical Group: Brachial Plexus Injury (Stinger/Burner) Rehabilitation Exercises
- University of Michigan Health System: Brachial Plexus Program