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Upper Body Exercises

Suggested Equipment: Towel, water bottles (filled with water as needed for weight), soup cans, small hand held weights. These items can be used to challenge strength (as appropriate)  for some of the exercises listed below. 

The following Upper Body exercises can be done in a seated or standing position. If standing, you can use a chair or counter for balance and support. When performing these exercises, remember to not let your pain increase by more than two points from your starting pain level. Start the exercise program with low repetitions (approximately 10) and gradually increase repetitions as the exercise becomes easier to perform.

Warm Up – Maintain Good Posture

  1. Arm biking – With your arms out in front, elbows bent with hands fisted, circle arms forwards and then backwards for 30 seconds each, as if pedaling a bike with your hands. 
  2. Arm Punches – Elbows bent with fisted hands close to your jaw.
    • Straight punch – Moving arms to punch straight out in front 10 times.   
    • Upper Cuts – Scoop arms down and up 10 times.
    • Cross Body Punch – Bring your arms across your body 10 times
  3. Half Jacks – Move straight arms from your hips to above your head and down 10 times.

Shoulder Exercises – Maintain Good Posture

  1. Shoulder Extension/Flexion – Start with your arms up in front of you at shoulder level. Slowly bring your arms down to your hips and then press back behind you. Keeping your arms straight, repeat motion back up to shoulder level and back down 10 times. 
  2. Shoulder External/Internal – Keeping your elbows bent and against your sides, with your palms facing inward, slowly bring your hands to your stomach and then back out to the side.  Repeat 10 times.
  3. Shoulder Abduction/Adduction – Starting with your arms at your side, slowly raise your arms out to the side up to shoulder level and back down 10 times.

Chest and Back Exercises – Maintain Good Posture

  1. Corner Pec Stretch – At a corner of the wall place one hand on each wall. Slowly lower your bodyweight so your body moves closer to the wall. Hold for 10 seconds then push back to the starting position. If seated, place a towel roll vertically behind your upper back. Place hands behind head and slowly lean back to stretch the pec muscles. 
  2. Bent Over Rowing – Bending over with your arms hanging at your sides.  Bend elbows and pull your elbow up and toward your chest and back down 10 times.
  3. Shoulder Press – Start with your fists at your ears. Raise your arms up straight up to ceiling and slowly bring them back down for 10 times.
  4. Wall Pushups – Position yourself facing the wall. Place your palms flat against the wall and step back until your arms are straight. Then slowly bend your elbows as you bring your body towards the wall as in a push up position and then slowly push yourself back into the starting position. Perform for 10 times. If seated, place hands on arms of chair and perform a seated push up, lifting buttocks off the chair. Slowly lower back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times. 

Bicep/Triceps Exercises – Maintain Good Posture

  1. Bicep Curls – Start with your arms at your sides with your palms up. Bend your elbows and bring the palms of your hands to your shoulders and back down for 10 times.
  2. Thumb Curls – Keeping your arms tight against your sides, bend your elbows with your thumbs pointing up and your palms facing each other. Bring your hands up towards the shoulders and back down 10 times.
  3. Palm down curls – Start with your arms at your sides with your palms facing down. Bend your elbows and raise your hands towards your shoulders and back down 10 times.
  4. Triceps Kickbacks – Bend over at the hips with your arms hanging at your sides. Bend your elbows and slowly straighten your arms back behind you. Repeat 10 times.

Hand Exercises – Maintain Good Posture

  1. Wrist Flexion/Extension – Start with palms of the hands facing up. Gently bend the wrist up and back down 10 times.
  2. Pronation/Supination – Hold your arms out with elbows bent and with your palms up. Turn palms down and then palms up 10 times.
  3. Deviations – Hold your arms out with elbows bent and with your thumbs up. Keeping your thumbs up, gently move the wrist up and down 10 times.
  4. Finger Spreading – Hold your fingers together and gently spread them apart 10 times.
  5. Opposition – Slowly touch your thumb to the tip of each finger 10 times.
  6. Squeezing Towel – Roll a towel up and gently squeeze the towel with your hands 10 times
  7. Wrist stretch – Face your palm up and gently use your other hand to stretch your fingers/wrist back. Hold for 10 seconds.  Repeat 3 times. Repeat on other side. 

Cool Down – Maintain Good Posture

  1. Triceps Stretch – With palm open, gently reach your arm across your chest and use the other arm to assist in holding the arm in position. Hold the stretch for 10-20 seconds. Repeat on other side.
  2. Reach to the Ceiling – Gently reach up towards the ceiling with both arms. Hold arms up for 10 seconds and slowly bringing them back down. Repeat 3 times. 
  3. Shoulder Shrugs – Bring shoulders up towards your ears and release back down 10 times. 

For questions, please call 610-776-3167.