Recovering From Rotator Cuff Injury


Do you have pain and tenderness on your shoulder, especially when you reach overhead or when you reach behind your back? Are these symptoms accompanied by shoulder weakness? If so, you may be suffering from rotator cuff injury.

Rotator cuff injuries often result from wear and tear of the rotator cuff muscles, which are structures that surround your shoulder joint. These set of muscles interact with the bones and the joints of the shoulder so that the shoulder can move at a normal range of motion. These muscles hold the shoulder bones in place when lifting heavy objects and during movement.

Aside from normal wear and tear which is caused by the breakdown of collagen in the shoulder tendons and muscles, rotator cuff injury can also result from poor posture, falling, lifting, pulling or repetitive stress. As a result of rotator cuff injury, there is pain and tenderness in the shoulder with accompanying weakness, causing you to limit movement on the area and further loss of shoulder range of motion.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends certain exercises which you can perform after rotator cuff injury with the supervision of your doctor or therapist. These exercises can strengthen the muscles that support the shoulder so that the shoulder joint becomes stable. They are also designed to improve flexibility so that you will be able to restore range of motion and prevent further injury. These exercises should be continued for 4 to 6 weeks as directed by your doctor or physical therapist.


The Pendulum

In this exercise, lean forward and place your hand on a table for support. Then, gently swing your arm back and forth, then side to side then in a circular motion, repeat on the other arm.


Crossover Arm Stretch

This exercise is directed towards the posterior deltoid. Gently pull one arm across your chest as far as possible. You should hold your upper arm for support. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat with the other arm.


Passive Internal Rotation

This exercise is directed towards the subscapularis muscles. You will be needing a yardstick or any light stick. Hold this stick behoind your back with one hand and grab the other end of the stick with the other hand. Hold this position for 30 seconds then relax for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other hand.


Passive External Rotation

This exercise works out the infraspinatus and the teres minor muscles. You will also be needing a light stick or a yard stick. In this exercise, you should also grasp the stick in one hand and hold the other end of the stick with the other hand, keeping the elbow of the shoulder you are stretching against your side. Push the stick horizontally as far as possible. Hold this position for 30 seconds and relax for 30 seconds and repeat with the other arm.


Sleeper Stretch

You should lie on your side with your affected shoulder under your arm. You can use a pillow if you like. Next, push your affected arm with your unaffected arm until you feel a stretch at the back of your affected shoulder. Hold this position for 30 seconds and release for another 30 seconds.

Other exercises for rotator cuff injury are the Standing Row, External Rotation With Arm Abducted 90°, Elbow Flexion, Elbow Extension, Trapezius Strengthening, Scapula Setting, Scapular Retraction/Protraction, Bent-Over Horizontal Abduction and Internal and External Rotation. Consult first with your doctor or therapist regarding the exercise program that suits you.

If you think that rest is the ultimate cure in rotator cuff injuries, you may be wrong. Studies show that without exercise, these muscles can degrade and weaken, thus becoming more prone to further injury. If you have rotator cuff injury, you need certain exercises to make you return to your usual daily activities.


Author Bio

This is a guest post by Daniel Vanderhoek who works for