Returning to Activity After Shoulder Injury - Dr. Kevin Kruse

Returning to Activity After Shoulder Injury


Recovering from a shoulder injury requires patience and smart strategies to avoid re-injury. This guide, authored by shoulder specialist Dr Kevin Kruse, provides essential tips for gradually resuming sports, work, and other daily activities safely.

Understanding Your Recovery Timeline

Each shoulder injury is different, and so is each recovery. Healing times can vary based on the severity of the injury and the treatment – whether surgical or conservative. Consulting with a shoulder specialist and healthcare professionals to understand your specific recovery timeline is crucial.

Phased Return to Activities

  1. Initial Rest and Recovery The first phase post-injury is rest. Minimize movement to allow the tissues to begin healing without stress. Follow your doctor’s advice on the duration of this phase.
  2. Gentle Reintroduction of Movement After the rest period, start with gentle, non-weight bearing exercises. Physical therapists often recommend specific movements to enhance flexibility and strength without overloading the shoulder.
  3. Gradual Increase in Activity Intensity As your shoulder becomes stronger, incrementally increase the intensity of your exercises. This phase might include weight training or resistance exercises under supervision.
  4. Return to Normal Activities Before fully returning to sports or heavy labor, test your shoulder’s capacity with activities that mimic your normal routines. Monitor for any pain or discomfort and adjust accordingly.

Activity Modifications

Modifying how you perform activities can prevent future injuries:

  • Use ergonomic tools for work-related tasks.
  • Adjust your sports techniques to reduce stress on your shoulder.
  • Strengthen surrounding muscles to better support the shoulder joint.

Emotional and Psychological Considerations

Recovery isn’t just physical. Feeling frustrated or anxious is common. Stay connected with friends, family, or support groups to share your experiences and maintain a positive outlook.

Consulting with psychologist

FAQs About Returning to Activity After Shoulder Injury

  1. When can I return to playing sports after a shoulder injury?
    • Return to sports should be gradual. Start with non-contact activities and slowly reintroduce more demanding sports as your strength and flexibility improve.
  2. What are the signs that I am pushing my shoulder too hard during recovery?
    • Signs include persistent or increased pain, swelling, and decreased range of motion. If you experience these, reduce your activity level and consult your healthcare provider.
  3. How can I modify my workstation to prevent re-injury?
    • Use an adjustable chair, keep frequently used items within easy reach, and take regular breaks to stretch and relieve tension.
  4. Are there any specific exercises to strengthen my shoulder?
    • Yes, exercises like arm circles, shoulder blade squeezes, and elastic band pulls can help. Always consult with a physical therapist before starting any new exercise routine.
  5. What should I do if my shoulder pain returns?
    • If pain returns, pause any strenuous activities and consult your healthcare provider. This could indicate that your shoulder needs more time to heal or that adjustments to your recovery plan are necessary.


Returning to regular activities after a shoulder injury requires careful planning and adherence to professional advice. By following a gradual approach and making necessary activity modifications, you can ensure a safe and effective recovery.

Additional Resources

For more information, consider consulting resources such as:

These resources offer extensive information on managing shoulder injuries and safely returning to everyday activities. Stay informed and proactive about your recovery to achieve the best outcomes.


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