Over the Door Pulley Exercises


The over-the-door resistance pulley is a home workout product that mounts on the top of a standard door in your home and can be used to do physical therapy exercises without having to use equipment normally found in the gym. The pulley system is simple to install and is effective for upper body stretching during physical therapy, particularly for the arms and shoulders. Shoulder flexion, abduction and internal rotation exercises work well with a door pulley and can be learned easily.

Shoulder Flexion

  • Place a chair against the door where the pulley is mounted. The chair should have its back against the door, facing away from it. Sit in the chair and grab one handle in each hand with both hands at the same level in front of you.

    Pull down with one hand and provide resistance with the other, allowing the pulling arm to go as far as possible and stretching the other arm overhead. Pause at the full extension of the movement and then return to the starting position. Now use the opposite hand to pull down and stretch the other arm above your head. Repeat this alternating exercise to build shoulder and forearm muscles with low impact.

    If you are treating an injured shoulder, then only pull down with the healthy arm, and allow the injured shoulder to stretch, according to Ohio State University Medical Center.

Shoulder Abduction

  • Place a chair sideways and about 18 inches from the door. Grasp one pulley handle in each hand with both hands at eye level and pull down with the arm farthest from the door. This will cause the other arm to rise up and to the side. Pull down until the other arm is fully extended in the air and you can feel a stretch. Hold the stretched position for 5 seconds and lower the arm in the reverse direction, back to the starting point. After several repetitions that begin to make the arms feel tired, turn the chair around and do the exercise on the opposite arm.

    If you are treating an injured shoulder, then only do the exercise on the side where the injured arm is closest to the door, according to Ohio State University Medical Center.

Internal Rotation

  • In a standing position with your back to the door, reach over your head with one arm and grasp the pulley handle. Lower the other pulley behind your back, and reach the other arm behind you as if you are trying to touch the middle of your back. Grasp the other handle with your free hand.

    Pull down on the handle with the upper arm to pull your lower arm up higher on the back to stretch the muscles. Pull as far as possible without causing discomfort, hold the position for 5 seconds and repeat until the arms begin to tire. Switch arms and repeat the process.

    If you have a shoulder injury, this exercise should only be done with the uninjured arm in the top position, according to Ohio State University Medical Center.

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