Shoulder Stiffness Exercises After Clavicle Fracture

Also commonly known as your collarbone, your clavicle is the bone that rests across your shoulder and connects to the top of your arm bone and shoulder blade. A clavicle break typically occurs when there is trauma to the shoulder, such as during a car accident or on the playing field if a person falls on your outstretched arm. Because you tend to keep the arm immobile following a clavicle fracture, the muscles and tendons can become stiff from disuse, resulting in pain after the clavicle has healed. To combat this, you can engage in physical therapy exercises to improve mobility.

A woman is working with a therapist for her shoulder. Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Overhead Stretching

Immediately after recovery, stretches are best to relieve pain from shoulder stiffness. Work toward being able to lift the arm overhead, over your shoulder through stretching on the ground. Lie on your back. Hold your palm upward as you gently raise the shoulder toward your head. Perform this movement slowly, imagining your arm as a clock hand, moving toward the 12 marker. Lift as high as you are able, then hold this stretch, breathing deeply for 10 to 15 seconds. Slowly relax the arm to return to your starting position. Now turn the palm downward to repeat the exercise. Perform this throughout the day to gain increased flexibility over time.

Ball-Assisted Reach

To perform this exercise, you need a stability or exercise ball. Kneel with the exercise ball in front of you, placing both hands on the ball. Slowly lower your buttocks toward your heels, reaching the arms forward, feeling the ball moving outward. As you sit back on your heels, your arms should be outstretched over the ball and you should feel a stretch in the shoulders. Slowly pull your arms in toward your body to return to your starting position. Repeat this three to five times.

Towel Stretch

Like the stability ball, a towel can be used as an assistive device to help restore range of motion following a collarbone injury. To perform this, hold a bath towel with your hands shoulder-with apart. Raise the towel to a 45-degree angle, halfway between your torso and shoulder height. Lead with your unaffected arm to pull the towel backward, feeling the stretch across the shoulder of your affected arm. Hold this for 10 to 15 seconds, then release the stretch. Repeat on the opposite side for even stretching.

Inward Rotation

This strengthening exercise should be performed only after your physician has cleared you for shoulder-strengthening exercises. Hold a light hand weight -- between 1 lb. and 3 lbs. -- in the hand of your affected arm. Lie on your unaffected side. Hold the arm at a 90-degree angle between your upper arm and forearm. The palm should be facing downward. Keep your elbow at your side as you lower the weight toward the floor in a slow, controlled motion. Bring the arm back to the starting position and repeat 10 to 15 times.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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