The rotator cuff is the often injured group of muscles and tendons that cover the shoulder like a t-shirt sleeve. These muscles and tendons provide the motion and stabilization of the shoulder. One of the reason the rotator cuff muscles tend to get injured is that they are often neglected and weak, while the muscles around them get stronger. They can also be injured through overuse.
For example, if the chest muscles are being worked and building muscle fibers, they will be able to carry a greater load. If the rotator cuff muscles are not being worked and need to assist the chest muscles in carrying that load, they will not be able to keep up. This usually results in a tear in one or more of the rotator cuff muscles/tendons. This injury may not always limit motion, but it is painful and needs ample rest to recover.
Try these at home exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff and relieve pain:
- Using a band or light free weights, bend the arms 90 degrees to the body. Keeping the elbows against the ribs rotate the arms as far out and back in as is comfortable for you. Perform three sets of 12-15 reps.
- Again using a band or light free weights, bend the arms 90 degrees, and place the elbows at shoulder height. Rotate up as far as is comfortable and back to shoulder height. Perform three sets of 12-15 reps.
After doing these exercises for three to four weeks, notice any change of strength or reduction of pain in the rotator cuff or shoulder area.