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Strengthen the rotator cuff muscles with these exercises

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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 stabilization and motion of the shoulder. The rotator cuff muscles tend to get injured because they are often neglected and weak, while the muscles around them get stronger.

The rotator cuff muscles and tendons attach and insert in and around the shoulder. If they are not worked properly and need to assist surrounding muscles in carrying a heavy load, they are prone to injury. A tear in one or more of the rotator muscles can be very painful and needs ample time to rest and recover. These injuries do not always limit motion, but can lead to decreased range of motion or even frozen shoulder if not treated properly.

Use a band or light weight to perform the following exercises:

Internal/external rotation - Bend the right arm at 90 degrees. Keeping the elbow against the ribs, rotate the arm out and back toward the body in a slow controlled motion for 15 reps. Repeat with the left arm. Be sure to stay in a range of motion that feels comfortable.

Abduction/adduction - Bring the arms up to 90 degrees with the elbows lined up with the shoulders. Lower the hands down to shoulder height and back up in a slow controlled motion for 15 reps.

Backward elevation - Begin with the hands along side the body, palms facing behind you. Press the arms straight back as far as is comfortable and return to start position. Continue for 15 reps. Only use a range of motion that is comfortable for your shoulders.

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