This upper body exercise can improve shoulder flexibility and mobility, and can be easily turned into a strengthening exercise with the addition of weights or weighted objects.
Holding a strap, belt or towel with arms a bit wider than shoulders, bring the arms as far overhead as you comfortably can. Bring the arms back down and repeat. Take care not to arch your low back. Keeping your knees bent usually helps with this.
Our shoulders can get tight and stiff if we haven’t used our upper body much while we’ve been ill, and this exercise can help get them more flexible again.
If you have a weaker arm or do not have a strap to use, you can clasp the hands together instead. Keep your breath steady and even as you do this exercise. Inhale as you lift the arms overhead, and exhale as you bring them back down. Again, make sure not to arch the low back; only go as far as you can before you feel that starting to happen.
You can also do this one hand at a time, especially if you’re starting to incorporate weights and want to turn this into a strengthening exercise.
Check the Resources handout "Making Exercise Harder" for a list of common household items you may use if you don’t have weights. When you are ready, you can challenge yourself to do the same exercise seated or standing, where the effect of gravity will make it more difficult.
Introduction to Supine (On Your Back) Exercises
Exercise is an important part of COVID-19 recovery in order to regain your strength, endurance, flexibility, and ability to fully take part in all aspects of your daily life. Even if you cannot yet tolerate exercise in positions other than on your back or in bed, it is still very important to keep yourself as active as possible.
Supine Absolute Basics – "The Bare Minimum"
Some of the absolute basic exercises that should be performed if you are bed-bound include ankle pumps, heel slides and rolling from side to side to change position. Doing these exercises regularly several times a day will help from developing blood clots, pressure ulcers or bedsores, and contractures (shortened, tight muscles).