What is rotator cuff exercises?

Rotator Cuff Exercises

Exercises for rotator cuff problems: Overview

Exercises are a very important part of treatment for a rotator cuff disorder.

If you have pain, weakness, and stiffness in your shoulder from a rotator cuff problem, your doctor will likely suggest that you try exercises and other at-home treatments. You also need to do exercises if you have rotator cuff surgery. You will work with your doctor and physical therapist to plan an exercise program. It can help you get back as much strength and flexibility in your shoulder as possible.

These exercises most often include:

  • Stretching.
  • Strengthening.

Before you start the exercises, talk with your doctor or physical therapist. It's important to do the exercises the right way each time.

But stop the exercises and call your doctor or therapist if you aren't sure that you're doing them the right way. Also call if you have any pain. Any discomfort you feel during exercise should not last more than 2 hours after you finish.

Clicking and popping during exercise don't mean that something is wrong. But a grinding feeling may be another problem.

If your shoulder is sore after you exercise, ice it.

What are some stretching exercises for rotator cuff problems?

Stretching exercises for rotator cuff disorders include:

  • Overhead stretch.
  • Posterior stretching.
  • Up-the-back stretch.
  • Wall climbing to the side.
  • Wall climbing to the front.
  • Pendulum swing.

You need to do your stretching exercises well and be able to put your shoulder through its full range of motion before you start doing strengthening routines. Do the stretching exercises 5 to 10 times a day.

If you had surgery, you probably won't start active rotator cuff exercises (where you use your shoulder muscles) until a few weeks after surgery. Active exercise might be allowed right away after surgery for tendinopathy. Be sure to follow your surgeon's advice on when you can do these exercises.

Most people wear a sling or brace after surgery. It helps keep the shoulder from moving. Ask your doctor how to take it off before you exercise. And ask how to put it back on when you finish. A friend, family member, or physical therapist may be able to help you if your doctor says it's okay.

What are some stretching exercises for rotator cuff rehabilitation?

Do not start doing stretching exercises until your doctor says you can. Your doctor will tell you which exercises to do, and how often and how long to do them.

Posterior stretch

  • Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Put the hand of your affected arm on the opposite shoulder, and hold the elbow to your body.
  • Then, using your good arm, hold the elbow of your affected arm and move it gently up, away from, and across your body.

External rotation

  • Hold a lightweight stick or rod in your good arm. It should be about 2 feet long. A curtain rod may work well.
  • Lie on your back with your elbows next to your sides. Rest the elbow of your affected arm on a small pillow or folded towel.
  • Set your arms so that the elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle, like the letter "L." Your hands will point straight up.
  • Hold the stick with both hands. Use your good arm to push the stick toward the affected arm so the affected arm moves outward, away from your body. Stop when you feel the arm stretching.

What is rotator cuff rehabilitation?

Rotator cuff rehabilitation is a series of exercises you do after your surgery. It helps you get back your shoulder's range of motion and strength. You will work with your doctor and physical therapist to plan this exercise program. To get the best results, you need to do the exercises correctly and as often as your doctor tells you.

Before you start any exercises, talk with your doctor or physical therapist. It is important that you know exactly how to do the exercises. Stop and call your doctor if you are not sure that you are doing the exercises correctly or if you have any pain. Hearing clicks and pops during exercise is not always cause for concern, but a grinding feeling may mean a more serious problem. Ice your shoulder after exercising if it is sore.

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