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Neck and Shoulder Exercises

Patient information A-Z

Diagram of a person moving the head

What should I do if I have radiotherapy?

Continue with your exercises so that good range of movement can be maintained throughout your treatment.


If you have any concerns following discharge from hospital, the surgery physiotherapy team can be contacted on bleeps 156 2121 or 156 2135 via main switchboard number 01223 245151.

Hospital television

A film of simple bed exercises is available on your over-bed TV. These exercises are suitable for most conditions. If in doubt about their suitability for you, please discuss your concerns with your physiotherapist.


Please be aware that this handout is to be used as a guide. If you find these exercises painful please seek advice from your physiotherapist or doctor. This information has been compiled by the physiotherapy team at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

You may receive this information during an appointment with a physiotherapist, from your clinic or ward, or via our website.

Diagram of a person moving the shoulders
Diagram of a person moving shoulders while laying down

Why should I exercise?

These exercises are designed to help you regain full movement in your neck and shoulder after your surgery.

Immediately after your surgery, movement may be limited due to swelling, clips in your skin and the position of your drains.

Gentle exercise helps to reduce swelling and prevent neck and shoulder stiffness and pain.

When can I start my exercises?

Exercises can be started the day after surgery but will be more comfortable once your drain is removed.

How often should I exercise?

Aim to exercise twice a day for about five minutes.

What to avoid?

Avoid heavy lifting for four weeks after surgery – a kettle of water is fine.

What other exercise can I do?

Walking – a daily walk gradually increasing the distance you go.

Swimming can be started six weeks after surgery but only if all wounds have healed.

Most other forms of exercise can be started two to three months after surgery but this is dependent on any other treatment you may need.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151