Deltoid Rehabilitation

This information is general and may vary from case to case. Your physiotherapist will guide you through the process. There are many different exercise and therapy regimes.

Dr Smith's rehab protocols are currently being reviewed and updated. Please contact the rooms for the latest version.
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  • The rotator cuff muscles, which normally stabilise the shoulder joint, may not function
  • This is usually because of a large tendon tear. Sometimes the tear is not suitable for or able to be repaired
  • The deltoid muscle, which helps provide the power to lift the arm, is usually preserved
  • The deltoid may be re-trained to compensate for the lack of rotator cuff function.
  • The following exercise programme should be undertaken 3-5 times per day to strengthen your deltoid muscle.
  • This should be followed for a least 12 weeks. Physiotherapist supervision is vital.
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Supine active assisted:
Lying on your back with the head supported by a pillow:
Bend your elbow as far as possible.
Raise the arm 90 degrees (until the elbow is pointing upwards).
The other arm may be used for assistance.
Once the arm is at 90 degrees the elbow may be straightened.
Hold the arm in the vertical position.
With the fingers, wrist and elbow straight make slow circular movements.
Move clockwise then counter-clockwise, drawing a circle in the air. Over a period of weeks
the size of the circle drawn may increase.
Move the arm forwards and backwards in line with the leg and body.
Then move the arm side to side across the body, thereby drawing a cross in the air.
As confidence increases a light weight, equivalent to a tin of beans, may be held in the hand
and the above steps repeated.
As confidence increases further the lying position can be altered increasing to an inclined to
a sitting and then standing position.
When changing position return temporarily to unweighted exercises and then build up again
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Resisted exercises:
Make a fist with the effected arm.
Place the palm of the other hand over the fist.
Push with the fist and palm against each other.
Gradually allow the fist to push harder against the palm and the arm will elevate above your
Repeat this manoeuvre to re-train the deltoid.
How often and how long?
These exercises should be repeated 10 times per session and the sessions repeated 3 to 5 times per day.
Stop exercising if you feel unwell or if you have pain.
Improvement will typically take 6 to 12 weeks.

(02) 9587 4720

Sydney Orthopaedic Trauma and Reconstructive Surgery
Suite 5, Level 2
19 Kensington Street
Kogarah NSW 2217