Shoulder Rehabilitation

AC Joint Stabilisation

Sling When will I go home? What can I do? What can’t I do?
4 weeks You will be discharged on the same day as the operation Passive range of movement in safe zone* No active movements, no lifting

Acute phase (0-4 weeks)


  • Reduce pain
  • Respect surgical repair
  • Begin controlled range of movement


  • *Safe zone: passive forward flexion to maximum 90°, passive external rotation to neutral
  • Teach scapular setting, postural correction
  • Pendular exercises
  • From 2 weeks, commence assisted active forward flexion to 60° (eg with cane, stick)
  • Elbow, wrist and hand exercises
  • No active forward elevation or abduction exercises

Criteria for progression

  • Pain control

Intermediate phase (4-8 weeks)


  • Discard sling
  • Restore functional range of movement
  • Re-educate cuff recruitment and scapular control through range
  • Enhance proprioception
  • Preserve surgical repair integrity


  • Progress range of movement beginning with passive movement, and then increasing active assisted and active as tolerated, whilst respecting pain
  • Commence cuff strengthening regime
  • Ensure dynamic scapular control through range
  • Hydrotherapy permitted

Criteria for progression

  • Pain free range of movement
  • Scapular and cuff musculature control through range

Late phase (>8 weeks)


  • Restore full range of movement
  • Optimise cuff and scapular control under load
  • Enhance shoulder power, strength and endurance


  • Continue to increase range of movement to functional range
  • Strengthening and endurance exercises for cuff and scapular musculature

Guidelines for return to functional activities

Driving Lifting Swimming Golf
6-8 weeks Light lifting at 6 weeks, avoid heavy until 3 months Breaststroke 6 weeks, freestyle 12 weeks 3 months

Devinder Garewal

Mr. Devinder Garewal

MBBS, BMedSci, FRACS (Orth), FAOrthA

Mr. Devinder Garewal is an orthopaedic shoulder specialist. Devinder completed his medical qualifications from the University of Melbourne and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and the Australian Orthopaedic Association.

Shoulder Bone Icon

Shoulder Joint

Elbow Icon

Elbow Joint

Wrist Icon

Wrist Joint

Hand Icon

Hand Joints

Have a question or want to book an appointment?