Physical Therapy Exercises for Recovery from a Clavicle Fracture

A broken collarbone, or clavicle, usually occurs after a fall on the shoulder or putting enough pressure on the bone to break it. Fractures may be partial or complete and often require surgical repair or fixation while they heal.

Every fracture is different. Therefore, it is important to work closely with your healthcare provider and physical therapist to design a clavicle fracture rehabilitation program that is specific to your injury, fitness level, and lifestyle.

In general, all rehabilitation exercise programs are designed to help people regain their full range of motion and then regain full strength.

This article provides guidelines for a physical therapy treatment plan for clavicle fractures and precautions to follow throughout the process. It also outlines the activities in the first week of a standard exercise program, from weeks 2 to 4, 4 to 8, 8 to 12, and 12 to 16.

Clavicle Fracture Rehabilitation Guidelines

The clavicle is one of the most common fractures in the body. Follow these guidelines when healing from a clavicle fracture:


  • Use ice: Ice the injured shoulder for 15 minutes 3 times a day or as needed to help reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation.
  • Use a sling: Place the injured arm in a sling for three to four weeks after the injury to help support the collarbone as it heals.
  • See Your Healthcare Provider: Keep your healthcare provider’s appointments and see your physical therapist consistently.

Do not do

  • Don’t raise your arms: Avoid this activity until your healthcare provider agrees.
  • Don’t lift too much: Avoid lifting anything with your broken arm until approved by your healthcare provider.
  • Don’t shrug, slouch, or round your shoulders in the sling: it’s important to pay attention to your body mechanics and maintain proper bone and muscle alignment to avoid future problems. Try to focus on good shoulder position. Ask your provider to show you how.

How do you know if you need physical therapy?

physical therapy

You may receive physical therapy three to four weeks after your injury. Your physical therapist will take your medical history and conduct an evaluation to see specific ways they can help you recover.

Highlights of your event may include:

  • Pain relief: You may also continue to have pain for two to four weeks.Your physiotherapist can recommend heat, ice or percutaneous Electrical nerve stimulation (called TENS). This form of electrical nerve stimulation is designed to reduce pain.
  • Range of motion (ROM): Joint mobility techniques can help restore joint range of motion. Your therapist will teach you how to perform these procedures at home. Some exercises are used to help restore range of motion. Your healthcare provider may allow a therapist to perform passive ROM exercises for stabilizing fractures. If unstable, they may need to be fully immobilized for some time.
  • Strength: Strengthening exercises will help regain muscle and bone strength lost during immobilization.
  • Scar tissue activity: If you had surgery on your fracture, your physical therapist may use scar activity and massage techniques and teach you how to perform self-massage at home.
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Standard Rehabilitation Exercise Program

This program is designed to improve the functional mobility of your shoulders and arms. Work with your healthcare provider and physical therapist to design a customized rehabilitation plan for your condition.

week 1

Standard daily exercise routine: You will perform isometric or static exercises every day. In isometric exercises, you contract your muscles without exercising. Here are the exercises you can expect to do:

  • Pendulum Exercise: In this exercise, the waist is bent forward, allowing the injured arm to drop to the ground. Make small circles with your hands and let the momentum move your arms effortlessly. Try doing clockwise and counterclockwise circles.
  • Grip Exercise: Squeeze a small ball with gentle but even pressure several times a day (squash works well).
  • Isometric Triceps Exercise: triceps It is the muscle in the back of the upper arm that is mainly responsible for extending the elbow. Place the injured arm on the table with the elbow at a 90-degree angle. Make a fist and press it against the table with your entire forearm from fist to elbow. Your arms won’t move, but your triceps will contract.
  • Rotator Cuff Exercises: The muscles that make up the rotator cuff are often damaged or torn when the shoulder is injured. Isometric internal and external rotation exercises are often used to rebuild rotator cuff strength.
  • Isometric Shoulder Exercises: You may also be instructed to perform isometric shoulder exercises, including abduction, adduction, extension, and flexion. Abduction and adduction exercises strengthen the muscles in the back of the shoulder and upper back. The latter two also work the muscles, with a stretch focused on moving your arm while it’s behind you, and a flexion focused on getting your arm to move from a resting position to almost any other position.

During the week, your physical therapist may also deal with any soft tissue injuries you may have, including muscle tears, strains, or strains. If you prefer, you can continue to maintain overall fitness during your rehab program through cross-training and cardiovascular exercises such as walking, stair climbing, and stationary biking.

Weeks 2 to 4

Your physical therapist will continue to treat your soft tissue injuries and identify structural imbalances caused by our clavicle fractures. In addition to the standard daily plan, they may suggest some of the following exercises:

  • Begin passive wall climbing or easy pulley exercises twice a day to build shoulder range of motion. To climb a wall, simply run your fingers up the wall as high as you can without too much discomfort in your shoulders. Try to improve a little every day.
  • Begin to build range of motion in your elbows by simply pivoting and bending and straightening your elbows and wrists.

Isometric Shoulder Exercises to Start Your Rotator Cuff Rehab

Weeks 4 to 8

If you recover well, you will begin to increase your range of motion and begin strengthening exercises. These can include:

  • The rotator cuff range of motion exercises continue, but for now you can add some slight resistance with straps or weights. Let pain be your guide to how much exercise you do. However, you should avoid shoulder lifts, rotations, and excessive movement.
  • You can start with simple shoulder range of motion exercises prescribed by your physical therapist.

Weeks 8 to 12

During this recovery phase, you will work towards a full range of motion in all directions. Your strengthening exercise program will continue, but you should avoid heavy lifting.

Focus on rebuilding muscular endurance using light weights and higher reps.

Weeks 12 to 16

If your physical therapist says you’re ready, you’ll start a more aggressive reinforcement program. Stop if you feel pain, instability, or “stuck” during joint movement.

You can:

  • Increase the intensity of your strength training exercises.
  • Begin sport-specific skill training and practice.

Be especially careful if you have previously been actively involved in sports training and/or competition. Your PT may not allow you to perform normal activities until tests show that your injured side is as strong and flexible as your uninjured side.


It takes about four months to recover from a fractured collarbone. It may seem like a long time before you think about breaking the process down into stages, each lasting about 4 weeks after you reach your 4th week. There is a list of do’s and don’ts that you must follow as you go through your rehab program. Throughout the procedure, your focus may remain on pain relief, range of motion, strengthening, and scar tissue mobility. As you might expect, challenges in your rehab program usually intensify until you regain full strength.

VigorTip words

Fracture recovery takes time and an investment in a treatment plan. To maintain overall health during recovery, choose to walk, climb stairs, or cycle hands-free. You may be in a hurry to get back on the field, but it’s best to wait until your medical team approves you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is the collarbone so easy to fracture?

    Because of its position, when you fall forward, the collarbone takes a hit. Certain qualities make bones prone to breaking:

    • The collarbone is not fully formed until age 30, so fractures are more likely to occur before then.
    • There is little muscle or ligament support in the clavicle.
    • The middle third of the bone is relatively thin.

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  • Can I exercise with a broken collarbone?

    Yes. In fact, as long as you don’t have surgery, you should be able to start doing elbow exercises soon after your injury. A physical therapist can guide you through the right exercises as you recover. Once the bones begin to heal, gentle shoulder exercises are required. Gradually, you’ll add more vigorous activity.

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  • How long does a clavicle fracture take to heal?

    It takes about four months to fully recover from a fractured collarbone. It may take longer if you have diabetes or smoke. You must follow your treatment plan and refrain from activities such as lifting objects until you are fully recovered. Rushing things can mean having to start over from scratch.

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