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How to do weight training with a shoulder replacement

Updated February 21, 2019

A shoulder replacement, also called shoulder arthroplasty, is the replacement of your natural shoulder joint with artificial parts. People who have shoulder joint replacements undergo surgery because their joint has been damaged beyond repair. Heavy-duty upper arm weight training with a shoulder replacement is not recommended, according to the British Orthopaedic Association, but lighter strength training can be part of your rehabilitation process.

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  1. Begin with light hand weights of about a kilogram and gradually work up to 2.5kg(5lb) weights during your training and shoulder exercises; your physical therapist will determine the appropriate weight for your rehabilitation. Due to the location of your arthoplasty, you might not be able to weight train with heavier weights due to the extreme stress placed on your shoulder.

  2. Increase your range of motion post-surgery with supine presses. Lie down on your back on a floor, bed or table. Grasp a hand towel with both hands together. Raise your arms, elbows straight but not locked, and push the towel toward the sky. Lift your shoulder off the floor as you push. When the exercise becomes too easy, move your hands apart an inch or two. Eventually, you'll be able to graduate to holding a full, 1/2 litre-sized bottle of water in your affected arm and perform the same motions.

  3. Strengthen your rotator cuff muscles -- the muscles that surround your shoulder joint -- with shoulder shrug exercises. Hold a hand weight in your closed first with your palm facing upward. Shrug your shoulders up and back down as you grip the weight. The University of Washington Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine suggests working up to 20 repetitions.

  4. Tip

    Discuss your lower-body weight training routine with your medical care provider before you resume normal activities. Though they involve the legs, certain exercises -- squats and lunges, for example -- may cause stress on your shoulder joint during the initial six-week recovery period.


    Give yourself time to heal after you've had a shoulder replacement before you begin weight training exercises. Do not to lift items that are heavier than a full glass of water for the first six weeks after your surgery.

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Things You'll Need

  • Hand towel
  • Water bottle
  • Hand weights

About the Author

Erica Roth has been a writer since 2007. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a college reference librarian for eight years. Roth earned a Bachelor of Arts in French literature from Brandeis University and Master of Library Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Her articles appear on various websites.

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