Introduction: Physical Therapy Pulley

About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author of t…

A few weeks ago I had shoulder surgery. Since then, I have been barely able to use my right arm. As someone accustomed to making things, this restriction has been mildly infuriating and I have been mainly sitting around depressed (filling my days with bad movies and lolcats).

Anyhow, I started physical therapy a few days ago so that some day... maybe not tomorrow... maybe not next week... maybe not any time soon... I can fully use my arm again.

During the first session the therapist pulled out this exercise pulley system that I could use to do some of the stretching. She recommended that I buy one from the center or from a sporting goods store for home use. I gave a quick glance at the setup and my first thought was "Buy!? I can make that... and with one hand no less!" and that is more or less what I did.

It was good to be making things again and surely cheaper than buying one as I only need to purchase the knob handles and the pulley (having all the other supplies on hand).

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

You will need:

A small pulley
Soft rope (that you wouldn't mind gripping)
2 Round handle knobs
2 Eye hooks to fit in knobs
8" of webbing (preferably cotton)
2 grommets
A nut and bolt that can clamp to the grommet
A 1/8" quick link
Craft glue
An Exacto knife or razor
Grommet pliers

Step 2: Handles

Make the handles by screwing the eyehooks into the screw hole in the round knobs.

...but I only have one hand!?

Well... the knobs fortunately already have the holes drilled for you. Just hold them between your knees and twist it in with your good hand.

Step 3: Grommet Time

You need to install a grommet on each of your cotton webbing.

First cut a small hole in each end that the grommet can fit into. one way to do this is carefully force the exacto knife through the fabric with your good hand and then slide the exacto knife under one slit and up through the other and cut up. Trim away the rest with scissors.

(If I were to cheat during any step of this process and use my bad arm to steady the fabric, even though I know I shouldn't, it would be to cut these holes with the exacto knife ;-)

Once you have cut the holes, insert your grommets and clamp them with the grommet pliers.

Step 4: The Stop

Insert the screw through the grommet and twist the nut on. Don't worry about tightening it too much. It doesn't need to be tight.

This is going to function as the stop to keep the strap from being pulled over the top of the door frame.

Step 5: Test

Throw the strap over your door and make sure your screw and nut combination will not be pulled through the crack at the top of the door.

Step 6: Seal the Edges

Keep your webbing strap from coming apart by dipping the ends in craft glue and letting it dry for a little while.

Step 7: Pulley

Attach your pulley to other grommet with your quick link.

Don't forget to close the lock nut.

Step 8: Tie One End

Tie your rope to one of the handles, being sure to leave a lot of extra slack. I attached mine by tying a figure-8 knot, passing the slack through the eye hook and then doubling it back through the knot. This is a very strong knot commonly used in rock climbing. You can use any knot you want.

Do not pull it tight with your bad arm. This is where the extra slack on the rope comes in!

Step on the slack and pull it tight using your good hand.

Step 9: Attach

Pull the rope through the pulley and secure the pulley to the top of the door frame.

Place your chair at the bottom of the door (should that be your exercise).

Sit in the chair and holding both ends of the rope, give it a gentle tug so that the nut and bolt catches on the other side of the door.

Hold the one knob handle with your bad arm and figure out where your good arm needs to be to pull most effectively. From this you can then figure out where on the rope you need to tie the other handle.

Step 10: Tie the Other Knob

Attach the other knob to the rope in the same manner you attached the first, allowing for slack to step on and pull the knot tight.

Step 11: Trim the Slack

Cut off the extra slack that you used for pulling the knots.

Step 12: Streeeeetch

Beat yourself back into shape.

Step 13: Design Mods

I decided I would prefer to have better handles for my system after a few days of use.

Having access to an Epilog laser cutter with a rotary attachment, I cut two 5" long acrylic rods and put a 1/4" hole in the center. I then passed the string through and knotted it to hold the handle in place.

You can accomplish the same thing without a laser cutter.

All you need is a table vice, a small handsaw and a power drill with a 1/4" drill bit.

I used acrylic because it was laser cutter safe, but if you are not using a laser cutter, feel free to use any 1" diameter tube including, but not limited to PVC, cardboard and polycarbonate.

Epilog Challenge

Participated in the
Epilog Challenge