New Shoulder Pendulum Exercise: Cradle the Baby

My friend Jason Gauvin, who is a really smart guy, shared with me a great version of the shoulder pendulum exercise for postoperative patients that may be pretty useful for everyone.  Looks like a great technique, especially for those patients with early guarding and hesitation moving their arm.  Check it out below.

Cradle the Baby

This exercise can be done post surgical and may replace the standard pendulum. This substitution version of the standard pendulum exercise allows the patient to control the surgical arm with the non-surgical arm; protecting the surgical repair from unnecessary stress that the standard pendulum can cause if performed incorrectly.  Often patients perform the standard pendulum incorrectly by actively moving the surgical arm to swing it, rather than the appropriate passive swing of the arm through body and hip sway.

The patient is to “cradle” the surgical arm like holding a baby using the non-surgical arm. The surgical hand may grasp the upper arm of the non-surgical for security, but the non surgical arm is intended to provide all the movement of the non-surgical arm. The patient can then gently rock the arm forward and back, side to side and in circles clockwise and counter clockwise as is done with the standard pendulum exercise.

Jason J. Gauvin, PT, MS, LAT, ATC, SCS, CSCS,

Thanks Jason, great idea and something I will definitely be incorporating into my practice.  What does everyone else think?

5 replies
  1. Don
    Don says:

    one pitfall is that it may promote unwanted scapulae movement in place of isolated GH mvmt. Otherwise, great alternative!

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Love the idea! The purpose of the pendulum is to create passive motion, not to create humeral distraction. The weight of the arm alone along with gravity will not create the distraction effect.

  3. Brian Phillips
    Brian Phillips says:

    At our clinic we purposefully demonstrate the pendulum "incorrectly" according to the traditional way it is to be performed, by allowing the involved arm to actively rotate in small circles while keeping the body still. In all honesty, over 95% of post-op patients (except for SLAP repairs) say that it "makes the shoulder feel great" and many consider it their favorite exercise to do. My question is for those that have patients perform a traditional pendulum with the body/hips swaying, do these patients praise the pain/stiffness relief from performing it this way compared to how we have them perform it?

  4. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Hmmm. Doesn't look as relaxing as the traditional pendulum exercises. Not sure, may try them…..thank you for the idea. gina

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