Four Injuries that Shoulder Pulleys Can Help Heal


A shoulder pulley is a simple, portable device for injury rehabilitation. Consisting of a rope with two handles, a pulley, and an anchor point, shoulder pulleys allow patients to perform self-assisted range of motion exercises. These exercises are an important component of the recovery process for many shoulder injuries.

Shoulder Injuries Helped by Shoulder Pulley During Rehab

  • Fractures. Minor fractures of the clavicle or the humerus bones can often be treated without surgery, although sometimes surgery is required to realign the bones. But whether or not surgery is performed, the shoulder will need to spend time immobilized as the fracture heals. After this period of immobilization, range of motion exercises will be needed.
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries. The muscles and tendons of the shoulder form the rotator cuff. Common injuries to this area include tendinitis, bursitis, and tears. As with fractures, rotator cuff injuries may or may not require surgery. Minor rotator cuff problems may be treated with rest and simple stretching and strengthening exercises. But once again, if surgery is performed it will be followed by a period of immobilization as the shoulder recovers. And this immobilization will be followed by range of motion exercises.
  • Frozen Shoulder. Also known as adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder is characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. Symptoms can begin gradually, then worsen over time, and then get better on their own—but this process can take several years. Frozen shoulder is more likely if you’ve had a procedure or injury that has kept your arm immobilized. Range of motion exercises will be an important part of recovery from frozen shoulder.
  • Shoulder Replacement Surgery for Osteoarthritis and Other Conditions. A number of conditions can lead to the need for shoulder replacement surgery, including several forms of arthritis, severe fractures, and severe rotator cuff injuries. As with other surgeries, shoulder replacement will be followed by a period of immobilization and then range of motion exercises.


Using a Shoulder Pulley for Range of Motion Exercises

The healing process for many shoulder injuries begins with rest and immobilization. After surgery, you’ll need to keep your shoulder as still as possible to let the healing take hold. Unfortunately, extended immobility can lead to stiffness and limited range of motion.

In order to counteract this, your physical therapist will want to begin range of motion exercises once your shoulder is well enough to handle them. In the PT’s office, these will likely be “passive” range of motion exercises. You will keep the muscles of your arm and shoulder relaxed while your PT manipulates the arm for you. Keeping the muscles relaxed limits the chance of reinjury.

These passive range of motion exercises are great but are limited to your visits to the physical therapist. This is where the shoulder pulley comes in. A shoulder pulley allows you to replicate these passive exercises by pulling one end of the rope with your good arm, which will take your relaxed, healing shoulder through its rehabilitating ROM movement. Shoulder pulleys thus allow ROM exercises to be performed more often, at home or at work, without assistance from another person.

Remember, though, that it’s very important you do the right exercises at the right time. You should always follow the advice of your physical therapist or doctor, who can tell you exactly what needs to be done for your specific case.