Whether you are someone who loves to hit the gym every day or you swim five days a week, you must have experienced shoulder pain at some point in your life. If that is the case, you might also have heard something about ‘Rotator Cuff’ from your gym trainer or physical therapist.
The pain that you feel while lifting weights, climbing mountains, playing sports, strength training, or swimming, is most probably the result of a rotator cuff tear. This can be prevented by strengthening your muscles with the help of exercises.
But before jumping straight to that, we will first know what a rotator cuff is. After that, we will see performing rotator cuff exercises can help you prevent many types of shoulder pain. You should definitely read this beginner’s guide to rotator cuff exercises if you have shoulder pain.
What Is The Rotator Cuff?
Your shoulder joint is mostly stabilized by four muscles namely supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. People call these muscles the “rotator cuff.” When your gym trainer talks about any problem in your rotator cuff, he or she is pointing at the muscles around your shoulders.
Your shoulder joint has a higher range of motion than any other joint in your body. This helps rotate your shoulder and get things done. But there is also a downside to this high range of motion. As compared to the other joints in the human body, the shoulder joint gets dislocated more easily.
The four muscles work in coordination with each other to prevent your shoulder from dislocating and give the shoulder freedom to rotate. Despite the high importance of the rotator cuff, people neglect to do rotator cuff exercises in the gym.
When the fours muscles in the rotator cuff do not work properly, the humerus bone might slide out of its ideal place causing extreme pain. The impingement to the top of the shoulder caused by the displacement of the humerus can further lead to rotator cuff tear.
The Rotator Cuff Workout
Since the muscles present in the rotator do not add to the looks, most people tend to ignore rotator cuff stretches while doing gym workouts or home workout. Even if they focus on the rotator cuff, they just perform rotator cuff strengthening exercises in the gym. However, doing only strength rotator cuff muscles exercises is a wrong approach towards the rotator cuff.
Just like any other set of muscles, the rotator cuff also requires strength, flexibility, and stability. And you can achieve that only by doing a set of diverse rotator cuff tear exercises in your rotator cuff workout.
Here is a list of some easy-to-do rotator cuff injury exercises that you can perform at your home.
The best rotator cuff strengthening exercises are those that promote deliberate movement and gentle strengthening of your rotator cuff muscles. The pendulum is one of those easy rotator cuff tear exercises. Here is you can do this exercise:
- Lean your body forward and place the right hand on a counter.
- Swing this arm back and forth like a pendulum (this will help in rotator cuff warm up).
- Now, swing the arm from one side to the other.
- Then, you have to rotate the arm making a circle.
- Now, come back to the starting position and repeat the pendulum exercise with the left arm.
To get the best results, you can try about two to three repetitions of this exercise, five days a week.
2. Cross-Body Stretch
There are some rotator cuff exercises that solely aim at increasing the flexibility of your muscles. Cross-body stretch is one of those rotator cuff muscles exercises that help with flexibility without causing any discomfort or pain. Here is how you can do cross-body rotator cuff stretches:
- You can start the cross-body stretch either in the sitting position or the standing position.
- If you are feeling pain in any arm, lift that arm at the elbow using the other arm.
- Let’s say that you have injured your left arm.
- Now, stretching your shoulder, you have to bring the left arm across your body.
- Gradually, start pressing this arm (this helps in rotator cuff strengthening).
- Hold this position for about half of a minute and repeat the exercise with the other arm.
- Some people wonder why they should perform the exercise with the unaffected arm. Doing this is necessary to get a complete and balanced upper-body stretch.
- For rotator cuff strengthening, you have to try at least 4 sets of repetitions on each arm.
3. Overhead Stretch
A good thing about rotator cuff exercises is that you do not require special equipment to do them. Even if they do require equipment, it is mostly present in your home. Overhead stretch is one of those minimal-equipment rotator cuff injury exercises. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to overhead stretch:
- Stand at an arm's length apart from a table.
- Bend your body with straight arms for rotator cuff warm up.
- Place the hands on the table to get support.
- Meanwhile, adjust your body to stretch the shoulders.
- Hold this position for at least 15 to 30 seconds and repeat it 2 to 4 times to get the best results.
4. Wall Press
Just like all the other rotator cuff exercises we mentioned above, this exercise is also very easy to perform. It helps in strengthening the muscles around the shoulders. Here is how you can do wall press:
- Stand against a wall, placing your palm at the wall to make a 90-degree angle with your arms.
- Take a towel, fold it, and now place it somewhere between your arm and the body.
- Press the palm towards the wall while making that the towel is kept pressed between the body and the arm.
- As a beginner, you can practice this move about 8 to 10 times for five sets.
- Wall press exercise is not finished yet, now you have to turn around press the outer portion of the arm against the wall.
- Again, put the towel between the body and the arm.
- Press the towel using your elbow and forearm.
- Again, you can practice this move about 8 to 10 times for five sets.
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