Background: Little information exists to guide the choice of exercise for regaining shoulder range of motion (ROM). The purpose of this study was to compare the maximal ROM reached, pain and difficulty associated with 4 commonly prescribed exercises.

Methods: Forty (9 females) patients with various shoulder disorders and a limited flexion ROM performed 4 exercises for regaining shoulder flexion ROM in a randomized order. Exercises included the self-assisted flexion, forward bow, table slide and rope-and-pulley. Participants were videotaped while performing all exercises and the maximal flexion angle reached during each exercise was recorded using Kinovea motion analysis freeware (Kinovea 0.8.15). Pain intensity and the perceived level of difficulty associated with each exercise were also recorded.

Results: The forward bow and table slide generated significantly greater ROM compared with the self-assisted flexion and rope-and-pulley (P≤0.005). The self-assisted flexion was associated with a greater pain intensity compared with the table slide and rope-and-pulley (P=0.002) and a greater perceived level of difficulty compared with the table slide (P=0.006).

Conclusions: Due to the greater ROM allowed, and similar or even lower level of pain or difficulty, clinicians may wish to initially recommend the forward bow and table slide for regaining shoulder flexion ROM.

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Published in Shoulder & Elbow.

© The Author(s) 2021

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