Rotator Cuff Injury Exercises – If you exercise regularly, there’s a very good chance you might suffer from injuries. To minimize the risk and recover quickly, make sure you know all the correct positions and moves.
We have three homes: the earth, the body, and the mind. Needless to say, the balance between these three aspects holds tremendous importance for our overall well-being. The body needs to be treated like a temple for it to function at its best.
To keep the body healthy and fit, there’s no better remedy than to exercise regularly. Especially in these trying and uncertain times, it’s vital to keep both the mind and the body fit to combat any health scare that might arise due to the pandemic.
It’s quite common to suffer injuries in the upper body while exercising, and one of the main risk areas is the rotator cuff. The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint that connects the shoulder bone with the upper arm bone with four muscles and tendons. This group of muscles and tendons is called the rotator cuff.
We are going to focus on what rotator cuff injuries are, which exercises can strengthen this area, and how to perform these exercises with the correct posture.
What Is a Rotator Cuff Injury?
The shoulder is the most versatile and mobile joint of the body. Every time we move our shoulder, we are using the rotator cuff to stabilize the shoulder and help move the joint.
It’s not a surprise that this well-used bundle of muscles and tendons can be overused, which may lead to injuries. Athletes who play baseball or tennis and people with jobs like construction or house painting are especially prone to rotator cuff injuries. The most common injuries of the rotator cuff are strains/tears, tendinitis, and bursitis.
Strains or tears are the most severe form of rotator cuff injuries. It’s usually caused by overuse or acute injury. The tendons can overstretch or tear off completely, and this causes intense and immediate pain.
The rotator cuff can also become inflamed when overused; this condition is called tendinitis. Bursitis is caused by inflammation of the bursa, the fluid-filled sac that sits between the rotator cuff tendons and underlying bones. Rotator cuff injuries can be degenerative and acute, and therefore it is essential to strengthening the area.
Some injury symptoms are:
- Difficulty in putting pressure on the affected shoulder, e.g. sleeping on it
- Not being able to achieve full range motion of the shoulder
- Tenderness or pain when the affected shoulder is in use
- Pain during nighttime
- Trouble reaching behind the back
- The pain becomes progressively more and more acute
- The shoulder becomes weak steadily
Rotator Cuff Injury Exercises
Listed below are some simple and common exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff.
1 – Arm Reach
Start by lying on your back and extending your legs and arms while contracting your abdominal muscles. Reach one arm slowly toward the ceiling. Continue to raise it until your shoulder blade comes off the floor. To follow the correct posture, make sure you don’t raise your head or let your supporting shoulder sag. Hold for five seconds and then return the raised arm to the floor. Repeat on the other side.
2 – Pendulum
You will need a table or a chair for this exercise. Lean forward while you support your good arm on the table or chair. Relax the affected arm and let it hang straight down. Slowly start to swing it. If it’s too painful to swing the arm on its own, move your body, and use that momentum. Gently swing it side to side, forward to back, and then in a circular motion. When you are ready, return to the standing position and then repeat on the other side.
3 – Lawnmower
This is a multi-joint functional exercise, and you will need a lightweight to perform this. Here’s how to do it—place one foot forward, keep your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold a weight on your hand. Keep the other hand on the extended knee for support and lean slightly forward. Make sure the weight on your hand is parallel to the opposite knee. Now, pull back the elbow of the arm with the weight just like starting a lawnmower. Return to the original position. Do a set of 8 to 10 repetitions. It’s ideal to do 2-3 sets per side.
4 – Crossover Arm Stretch
This is a simple exercise/stretch you can do anytime or anywhere. To begin, relax the shoulders and draw one arm over your chest lightly. Stretch it as far as possible while holding up your upper arm. Stay 30 seconds in this position, followed by 30 seconds of relaxation. Now repeat with the other arm.
5 – Lying Down External Rotation
Lie on one side of your body on a firm surface with your knees slightly bent. You can place a pillow under your head to rest your neck. Hold a lightweight and place your top arm by your side. Now bend your elbow 90 degrees and slowly twist your arm upwards and raise it without moving your elbow. Repeat 3 times for 5-8 reps.
6 – Doorway Stretches
Not only is this simple stretch good for rotator cuff injuries but also for maintaining good posture. Arrange your body in an open doorway with each arm raised to the side. Bend the arms to a 90-degree angle while resting your palm forward on the door frame. Step one foot forward and stretch your shoulders and chest.
7 – Two Arm Wall Stretch
This is another very simple stretch that you can do almost anywhere. All you need to do is stand up straight with your back against a wall. Raise each arm sideways against the wall and bend your elbows to create an L-shape. Keep the upper arms parallel to the floor and as flat as possible against the wall. Now, move your arms up against the wall as if you are trying to touch your hands. Maintain the elbow bend and move them back down and then back to the resting position.
These seven simple exercises can strengthen rotator cuffs and prevent many kinds of injuries. It’s important to practice these exercises every day and in sets. As mentioned above, rotator cuff injuries can be acute and degenerative, and if it’s not taken care of promptly, it can result in further irreparable damage. These exercises will not treat the tears and strains of the rotator cuff, so it’s important to see a doctor for medical help before it’s too late.
Jay always had a passion for fitness. A former skinny guy, he built himself 35 lb of lean muscle over the years using different training strategies, going through failures and eventually succeeding, and now wants to share his knowledge with those who value fitness as a way of life (See all posts by Jay Fielding).