Rotator Cuff Exercises

Shoulder injury rehabilitation exercises: Rotator cuff tear

Most sports come with injuries to accompany them. Although swimming is, by most standards, not a sport associated with high risk of injury, id does have it’s own problems.  By far the biggest source of sidelining swimming injuries in the shoulder.  This can lead into:

  • Unbalanced strength development
  • Sudden increase in training distance or intensity.
  • Improper Technique – reaching too far and over, rotating, crossing over in freestyle

It is important to take preventative measurers, such as:

  • Always warm-up prior to exercising. A good warm-up will loosen the muscles and prepare them for heavy usage.
  • Learn how to stretch… then do it regularly. Stretching will increase your flexibility which can help keep you injury free.
  • Cross train with weights to build muscle strength in supporting muscles that you may not work as hard while training for each sport.
  • Look for signs of overtraining and listen to your body. Even though it may be hard, taking time off to let the body recover is a good thing.

One important  facet is to do strength exercises to prevent any injuries. The following exercises are examples of the strengthening routines commonly prescribed by physicians and physical therapists to help active people recover from rotator cuff injuries.

Depending on the specifics of your injury, some or all of these exercises may not apply. Always check with your physician or physical therapist before beginning a stretching or strengthening program.

STRETCHING 
The following exercises are examples of shoulder and arm stretching routines to help you control arm movements and prevent injury. Depending on your specific medical history, some or all of these exercises may not apply. Always consult with your physician before beginning a strengthening program.

Physicians generally recommend stretching only the back of your shoulder. Over-stretching your shoulder may contribute to future injury. Each stretch is meant to be held for a count of 15 to 30 seconds and repeated three times for each arm.

Posterior shoulder stretch 
Lift your arm to shoulder height. Using your opposite arm, pull the arm across your body. You should feel the tension in the back of your shoulder.

Shoulder blade stretch 
Standing or sitting, reach across your chest with both hands and try to grasp your shoulder blades. Drop your chin toward your chest. Inhale, holding onto your shoulder blades for a count of 15. You should feel the stretch along the border of your shoulder blades.

Wrist flexor and elbow extensor stretch 
With the palm of your hand facing the floor and your elbow straight, raise the arm to a point parallel to the floor. Use your opposite hand to bend the hand up, so your fingers are pointed toward the ceiling. You should feel the stretch in the tendons of your wrist and the inside group of forearm muscles.

Wrist extensor stretch 
Standing or sitting, with the palm of your hand facing the floor and your elbow straight, raise the arm to a point parallel to the floor. Use your opposite hand to bend the hand down, so your fingers are pointing toward the floor. You should feel the stretch in your wrist and the outside group of forearm muscles.

STRENGTHENING 
The following exercises are examples of shoulder strengthening routines to help you control arm movements and prevent injury. Depending on your specific medical history, some or all of these exercises may not apply. Always consult with your physician before beginning a strengthening program.

Each exercise is meant to be performed three to five times a week. Begin the exercises with two- to three-pound weights, performing the motion slowly with each arm. Start with a set of ten repetitions and work up to 15. When you can finish one set without difficulty, try two and then three sets. Only increase the weights when you can easily perform three sets. Each time you increase the weights, reduce the number of sets to two until you can easily perform them.

Shoulder flexion 
Stand or sit with your arms at your side, palm toward your thigh. Keeping your elbow straight, raise your arm in front of you, leading with your thumb. Continue slowly until your arm is overhead. Return slowly to the starting position and repeat with each arm.

Shoulder abduction 
Stand with your arms at your side, palms facing your thighs. Lift both your arms sideways to shoulder height, keeping elbows straight. Lower your arms slowly to starting position and repeat.

Shoulder elevation 
Stand with your arms at your side. Keeping your elbows straight, turn your arms in so that thumbs are pointing downward. Bring your arms forward, slightly in front of your body. Raise both your arms to 70 degrees, keeping your elbows straight and thumbs pointed toward the floor. Slowly lower your arms to starting position and repeat.

Military press 
Sit with the weight held at shoulder level by bending your elbow toward your chest. Raise your arm straight overhead with your palm facing in. Keep your elbow in a straight line with your body. Return slowly to the starting position. You may exercise both arms at once or each arm individually.

Horizontal abduction 
Stand next to a table or bench. Lean forward from the hips, using the arm closest to the bench for balance. Allow the other arm to hang perpendicular to the floor with the elbow straight.

Hold the weight with your palm facing inward. Lift your arm up and to the side, keeping your elbow straight. Continue lifting until your arm is parallel to the floor. Make sure you do not lift your hand higher than your shoulder. Return slowly to the starting position. Begin the next repetition right away to avoid unnecessary traction on your shoulder.

You may also do this exercise lying on a table on your stomach, with your arm hanging over the side.

Shoulder extension 
Stand next to a table or bench. Lean forward from the hips, using the arm closest to the bench for balance. Allow the other arm to hang perpendicular to the floor. Holding a weight with your palm facing inward, lift your arm backward until it is level with your trunk. Keep your elbow straight and your arm close to your trunk. Return slowly to the starting position. Begin the next repetition right away to avoid unnecessary traction on your shoulder.

You may also do this exercise lying on a table on your stomach, with your arm hanging over the side.

External rotation exercise 
Lie on your side. With the hand of the unsupported side, hold a weight close to your abdomen with your elbow bent 90 degrees. You can place a rolled-up towel in your armpit for added support.

Rotate your shoulder, moving the back of your hand toward the ceiling. Keep your upper arm and elbow on the pillow or towel. Return slowly to the starting position and repeat.

Internal rotation 
Stand near a door with the shoulder you are exercising facing the door and the other shoulder facing away from the door. With your arm at your side, bend your elbow 90 degrees. Place tubing or a resistive band in your hand with the other end attached to the doorknob. Rotate your hand toward your stomach. Return slowly to the starting position and repeat.

For more information, contact Hector L Torres at 321-443-0073

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Categories: Coach's Corner

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