Top 5 Ways to Strengthen your Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff muscles are the four muscles that make up the rotator cuff in the shoulder: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. These muscles are important for providing stability to the shoulder joint and enabling a wide range of motion in the shoulder. They are also important for preventing shoulder injuries.

Stability is a key part of the shoulder. It’s a very mobile joint with a shallow socket. This is great, it allows a huge range of motion to reach for things. But there are also muscles that help to maintain stability to the joint, the rotator cuff muscles. This helps stop adventitious movements and translatory movements.

Shoulders need to be strong to support the body during everyday activities and to prevent injury. Strong shoulders are important for activities such as carrying heavy objects, pushing, and pulling. Strong need to be strong for sport, for example, swimming, tennis and cricket, and many others.

Why are Rotator Cuff Injuries So Common?

Rotator cuff injuries are so common because these tendons can be easily strained or torn due to repetitive overhead activities, poor posture, lack of strength and flexibility in the muscles, or an acute injury such as a fall or collision. The most common type of rotator cuff injury is known as a degenerative rotator cuff tear. This is most commonly due to osteoarthritis and degenerative change at a small joint in the shoulder called the acromioclavicular joint (ACJ).

We see dozens of patients each week with rotator cuff tears. Some of our physio’s have treated well over 500 patients with rotator cuff strains, rotator cuff tears, and rotator cuff ruptures (the most severe form of rotator cuff injury). These injuries are ALWAYS problematic, slow healers, and can easily cause chronic pain and stiffness.

If you suffer a rotator cuff injury, strain or tear, seek medical advice straight away from our team. Actually, for any shoulder pain, come in and get it checked.

Golf, Weightlifting, and Rotator Cuff

We see a very high proportion of patients at Surrey Physio who are golfers and present with shoulder impingemetn, and rotator cuff issues. Golfers seem to be particularly at risk, despite not feeling any pain while playing gold. Weightlifters also commonly have rotator cuff tears, and we look after a number of the UK's top weightlifters and powerlifters at Surrey Physio.

Our Top 5 Exercises to Strengthen your Rotator Cuff:

There are dozens of ways to strengthen your rotator cuff, but we’ll focus on resistance band exercises. There are many others, but these are straightforward and effective.

1. Spiderman: Start in a gentle squat position. Place your hands inside a looped resistance band, pushing it apart. Keep tension against the band and walk your hands up the wall as high as feels comfortable. Straighten your legs, and return to the start position. This exercise mobilises the shoulder and activates the posterior rotator cuff muscles. Perform 10 reps, for two sets.

2. Draw the Sword: Start with your thumb pointing down, somewhere near your opposite knee, and taking the band lift your arm above your head and to the side. At the top of the movement, your thumb should be pointing upwards (i.e. the arm has turned out). Imagine you are drawing a sword out of its sheath. Return to the start position. This is a great mobility and strengthening exercise for your shoulder. Perform 10 reps, for two sets.

3. Exeternal Rotation with Band: Tuck your elbow in, keeping it next to your body, and move your arm outwards away from your stomach, using the band for resistance. This is an important strengthening exercise for the rotator cuff shoulder muscles. Perform 10 reps, for two sets.

4. Internal Rotation with Band: Tuck your elbow in, keeping it next to your body, and move your arm inwards towards your stomach using the band as resistance. This is an important strengthening exercise for the rotator cuff shoulder muscles. Perform 10 reps, for two sets.

5. Kneeling Lateral Glides with Band: Kneel down on all fours. Place an exercise band around your hands. Place one hand on a towel and slide your hand away from your body, This exercise improves shoulder stability. Perform 10 reps, for two sets.

(Physios and Therapists: these videos are provided by Rehab My Patient – the best exercise prescription software for therapists to prescribe exercises Patients: if you are a patient needing advice, call Surrey Physio to book a telephone/video consultation with one of our expert physios or osteopaths, or book in face-to-face for an appointment. You can call us on 0208 685 6930 or book online by clicking the link at the top of the page).