Exercises for rotator cuff injuries
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
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Treatment of rotator cuff injuries begins with an accurate diagnosis, followed by strengthening exercises as well as other measures
An anti-inflammatory drug can be taken to reduce symptoms so that strengthening and stretching exercises can be performed.
Stretching of the shoulder rotator cuff muscles is done both as treatment for pain and as well as a warm up before activity.
A physical therapist can help with this.
Strengthening of the shoulder rotator cuff muscles is best performed by isolating each muscle group and selectively training that muscle.
The subscapularis is the anterior stabilizer of the rotator cuff and responsible for internally rotating the shoulder. It is best strengthened by holding a light hand weight (about 3 pounds or less to start) in front of the body, with the arm flexed to 90 degrees, and rotating the hand internally to touch the belly button.
The supraspinatus is strengthened by holding a light weight (initially 2 lbs or less) out straight in front of the body, with the thumbs pointed toward the floor. Slowly elevate the weight to above the head. Stop if pain comes on.
The infraspinatus is strengthened by holding the weight vertically in your fist with the elbow bent at 90 degrees. Rotate the arm from the neutral straight ahead position, to the externally rotated (out to the side) position. This will lead to strengthening of the infraspinatus and teres minor. Shoulder exercises are best using relatively light weights and multiple repetitions.
The goal of gentle stretching, strengthening and anti-inflammatory medication, is to stimulate cells to lay down collagen along lines of stress, forming normal strong tendons. The combination of a good warm up, gentle stretching, strengthening below the limits of pain, icing after working out and anti-inflammatory medication has been shown to speed recovery time.
For more information on rotator cuff tendonitis, visit our sister site:
Tendonitis and PRP
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