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Supine Strengthening Program


This program is recommended for all our shoulder surgery patients once they are cleared to start strengthening (typically at least 12 weeks after surgery) and also for our other patients we recommend pursue a supine deltoid or rotator cuff strengthening program. This program offers a simple and stress free way to gain shoulder strength without placing injured or repaired tissues at risk. It also requires no specialized or expensive equipment. Finally, it helps promote proper sequencing and coordination of shoulder function.We recommend using a gallon container with a comfortable handle such as a milk jug for example.

The program is performed while lying down on a firm and comfortable surface.

Your arm typically weighs 5-7% of body weight. The program involves supine range of motion to minimize dyskinesia and scapular substitution until you are able to effectively move 5% of body weight in the supine position without difficulty. A 20-30 repetitions range is utilized starting with just the weight of the arm until 30 repetitions are reached, followed by the addition of just enough weight to be able to do 20 repetitions successfully, continuing this progression until the 5% body weight is achieved. A full gallon container of liquid weighs around 8 pounds.

Slowly adding just enough liquid to the container so that you are able to perform 20 repetitions is an easy way to add the appropriate amount of weight instead of adding a fixed amount of weight which may be too much for you to handle at that time. Once, 30 repetitions are reached with that amount of liquid, just add enough additional liquid so that you’re only able to perform 20 repetitions again.

Once, the jug is full approximately 1/5, we recommend performing the program every other or every third day in order to prevent too much stress and allow the muscles the appropriate recuperation time. Once you are able to perform 30 repetitions with a full gallon jug (about 8 pounds) you should notice that when you are standing or sitting up you are able to move your shoulder with much greater ease and strength.

This program also serves as an excellent gateway for higher level strengthening because it allows the shoulder girdle muscles to relearn proper sequencing and gradually builds strength in a safe manner.

Click here to learn about shoulder strengthening exercises.

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