How to Make Your Own Shoulder Pulley

The main objective of shoulder rehabilitation post-injury is to improve your mobility and range of motion. The shoulder pulley is one of the tools that are frequently used for this.

A shoulder pulley is a therapy tool that applies controlled pressure to an injured shoulder joint. This gentle stretching technique helps to stretch and strengthen muscles and connective tissues without damaging the joints.

The shoulder pulley is a safe and efficient tool for the treatment of shoulder problems, including:

  • Adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder)
  • Rotator cuff tears and surgery
  • Shoulder tendonitis
  • Shoulder impingement


If your PT has you using a shoulder pulley as part of rehab, don't worry! You can buy a home version to continue treatment on your own time for only $25. If you have the proper tools, time, and supplies on hand, you can also make your own.

Here's a fast and simple step-by-step guide to assist you:

1. Gather Your Supplies

First, grab everything you need to make the pulley. Most of the items can be found around your house or purchased from a hardware store for cheap. You only need three things:

  • A small pulley designed for 5/16" rope
  • A polyester rope that is 5/16" in diameter and 12-14 feet long
  • Scissors

Polyester rope is the best type to use because it is soft and easy to run through the pulley wheel.Additionally, it is flexible enough that you can close a door without harming the structure. This is critical since the pulley will be secured in this manner.

A more comfortable grip may be achieved with a thicker rope, though this will make it more difficult to close the door. A thinner rope is often better in these circumstances.

2. Make the Pulley Hanger

You'll need the following materials to make your pulley hanger: a one-foot length of rope for the first cut. To secure the rope, pass it through the top of the pulley and tie a double overhand knot. The double overhand knot is created by making two passes with the rope around your hand.

There should be an excess of two inches of rope on one side of the knot with nine inches being the minimum amount on the other.

3. Create the Pulley Anchor
Tie an overhand knot on the longer end of the hanging rope to form an anchor. The knot will be on the outside of the door when it is shut, which will stop the rope from slipping out.

If the anchor is tiny or appears flimsy, make additional knots to ensure that the pulley system is firmly established once it's in place.

4. Build Your Pulley Line
Cut a length of rope that is approximately 10 to 12 feet long. If the line is too long, don't worry; you may alter the size to suit your needs.

Feed one end of the rope through your pulley, then use an overhand loop knot to tie the loose end into a handle. The overhand loop is one of the most basic knots, similar to the overhand knot. To create an overhand loop:

  1. Make a loop large enough to go around your hand.
  2. Take the loop and make another loop, passing the end through the circle once or twice.
  3. Pull the rope tight to secure it.

As you pull the slack through the pulley, it prevents the rope from slipping out of the pulley.

5. Create a Second Handle
At the other end of your rope, create another looped handle. Some people like to use a four-inch piece of plastic tubing (or a cut section of a discarded garden hose) to make a comfortable grip out of the loop.


6. Hang Your Pulleys
After you create your pulley, use the anchor with the knot to hold it over the top of the door. The door should be able to close completely, and the test is done by tugging on the rope.

Now, you have a shoulder pulley system that is both basic and effective to use in the comfort of your home. Determine which pulley exercises are best for you by speaking with your physical therapist.

After your injury has sufficiently healed, you can move on from simple range-of-motion exercises to more intense shoulder resistance exercises, such as:

  • Resistance bands for the rotator cuff
  • Shoulder exercises that utilize the entire body
  • Exercises for Scapular Stabilization on the Shoulder
  • Face pulls


You can also save time by making your own DIY shoulder pulley with RangeMaster Molded Rubber Handle Shoulder Pulley