Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: Exercises

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Your Care Instructions

Here are some examples of typical rehabilitation exercises for your condition. Start each exercise slowly. Ease off the exercise if you start to have pain.

Your doctor or physiotherapist will tell you when you can start these exercises and which ones will work best for you.

How to do the exercises

Chin tuck

Photos of chin tuck exercise
slide 1 of 3
slide 1 of 3, Chin tuck,
  1. Roll up a towel so it is about 5 to 7 centimetres thick.
  2. Lie on the floor and place the rolled towel under your neck. Your head should be touching the floor. Your lips should be closed and your tongue should rest on the roof of your mouth.
  3. Gently nod your head, bringing your chin toward your throat.
  4. Be sure to keep the back of your head on the floor.
  5. Hold for about 6 seconds.
  6. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Shoulder strengthening

Photo of shoulder strengthening exercise
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slide 2 of 3, Shoulder strengthening,
  1. Sit up straight in a chair with your hands in your lap.
  2. Pull your shoulder blades down and back against your rib cage. It may help to imagine that you are lifting your breastbone up 8 to 10 centimetres.
  3. You should feel your body lengthen and your lower shoulder blade muscles tighten.
  4. Hold for 6 seconds.
  5. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Chest and shoulder stretches

Photos of chest and shoulder stretches using rolled towels or a foam roller
slide 3 of 3
slide 3 of 3, Chest and shoulder stretches,
  1. Put a few towels on top of one another and roll them together lengthwise.
  2. Lie down, and place the roll of towels along the bones of your spine from your neck to your tailbone. Or lie on a foam roller if you have one.
  3. Make sure that your head and tailbone area are supported with the roll of towels or on the foam roller. Be sure the towel roll or foam roller is in line with your spine.
  4. Bend your knees to support your lower back.
  5. Hold this position while moving your arms into the following positions:
    • Arms at your sides, with the palms facing up.
    • Arms out to your sides in a "T" shape.
    • Arms out to your sides with your elbows bent to 90 degrees, as in a "goalpost" shape.
    • Arms stretched over your head.
  6. Hold each arm position for 15 to 30 seconds.
  7. Repeat the entire cycle of arm movements 2 to 4 times.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter S488 in the search box to learn more about "Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: Exercises".

Current as of: March 21, 2017