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Shoulder Exercises

Shoulder Exercises For Rotator Cuff

Rotator Cuff injuries are the most common source of shoulder pain

Rotator Cuff injuries are the most common source of shoulder pain. The injuries are not partial to a specific age group. Rotator cuff injuries occur for a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons is due to overuse of the particular region, often related to repetitive motions involved in sports related activities.

Another common causes of shoulder pain is impingement. Impingement is a result of the front edge of the shoulder blade or acromion, impinges upon the surface of the rotator cuff. This type of injury limits mobility and causes uncomfortable pain.

The uncomfortable pain may be due to what is called “bursitis”. Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa lying over the rotator cuff. A partial tear in the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, or subscapularis, three of the connecting muscles of the rotator cuff, may cause impingement pain. It may also be referred to as acute reversible tendonitis, a common injury.

Symptoms include:

- Pain when throwing or serving a ball
- Pain while sleeping or at rest
- Radiating pain from the shoulder
- Sudden pain when reaching

A diagnosis can typically be made through a detailed history and a series of imaging studies.

Treatment may consist of non surgical or surgical procedures. Initial treatment will be non surgical. Typically, a non-steroidal oral medication will be given for inflammation and pain management.

Many patients will also receive a cortisone injection in the affected area.

The physician may also prescribe physical therapy to aid in the rehabilitation of the area.

When non surgical procedures do not heal the pain, a physician may prescribe surgery. With this surgery, the impingement is removed to allow for more space for mobility of the rotator cuff.

For Athletic and Sports Activities

Athletes, such as baseball players, swimmers, golfers, body builders and tennis professionals are most at risk for rotator cuff injuries and must take special preventative measures to avoid various injuries related to the rotator cuff.

Though at risk for rotator cuff injuries, swimmers are at the least risk because of buoyancy of the water protects the muscle as the athlete exercises.

Importance of the Exercises to Prevent Injury and Strengthen

To remain competitive in the industry, athletes must maintain a strict exercise regimen complete with strengthening and stretching exercises to prevent injury, enhance flexibility, mobility, and full-range of motion.

Popular Exercises for Injury Prevention

Athletes are screened pre-season by a physiotherapist to prevent common sports related injuries and specifically, in this instance, shoulder injuries. Five major areas require attention and management to be successful in a prevention shoulder exercise regimen:

Sports Specific Technique

Dependent upon which muscles are primarily used in a given sport, a regimen will be developed to focus on strengthening the specific muscle group stressed the most by the movement of the given sport. Good form is important when executing the exercises. If they are performed improperly, this can add undue stress and fatigue to the muscle and thereby increasing chance of injury.


To avoid rotator cuff injuries, one must pay special attention to make sure that the internal and external rotators are equally flexible. This requires balancing the forces centering the humerus and also ensuring freedom of movement for the scalpula and humerus.

Core Stability

The core provides the stability necessary for the shoulder to gain momentum needed for sports related activities that require lifting the arm repeatedly overhead. It is therefore critical to have strengthened lumbar muscles and care must be taken to the cervical spine muscles to reduce strain on the shoulder region.

Rotator Cuff Strength

Equal strength and flexibility of the rotator cuff is necessary to prevent injury. The athlete should desire a balanced overhead movement so that the humerus and glenoid are centered to minimize injury. If the rotator cuff muscles and bones are not properly aligned when executing a play, the muscles used to generate power may fail to perform in the desired mode and thus put the athlete at a disadvantage due to an inability to produce the desired power or movement required in his or her sport.

General Muscle Strength

Imbalance or overdeveloped muscles in one area can lead to injuries of the rotator cuff. Typically, when overuse injuries occur in athletes, it is a result of an imbalance between the front of the shoulder and the back. This may happen if the pectoral muscles and lateral muscles are overdeveloped in relation to the trapezius muscle, rhomboid, and posterior deltoids.

Prevention Exercise Strategies

As mentioned previously, make certain that upper body workouts are balanced so that one group of muscles is not stronger than the other thereby increasing risk for injury.

Also, posture is also important .

Sports Specific Exercises

For athletes, simply strengthening the area through conventional exercises may not be enough to prevent injury as the exercises performed may not mimic the actual movement exerted during the actual sports activity. Thus, plyometrics are employed to mimic sports-specific movements and capture the muscles that may have been overlooked in conventional exercises.

Plyometrics is a form of exercise that allow the muscle to reach a maximum force in the shortest possible time. Medicine balls of varying weights are employed in the plyometrics regimen for the shoulders. Plyometrics focused exercises for the posterior deltoids and external rotator muscles are useful to develop the muscles that are involved with throwing or serving.


Exercise 1

Lay on your stomach on a table or a bed. Position the left arm so that it is hanging straight off of the table or bed with dumbbell in hand. Bend the elbow to a 90 degree angle with your palm facing down. Keep the elbow bent and slowly raise the left hand. When the hand is level with the shoulder, cease movement. Lower the hand slowly. Repeat the exercise until the arm is fatigue. Then switch to the right arm.

Exercise 2

Roll up a towel and place it under your right armpit while laying on your side on a table or bed. Stretch your right arm above your head. Keep your left arm close to your body with the forearm resting against your chest palm down. The elbow should be bent at a 90 degree angle. Roll your left shoulder outward, as if you were making a backhand swing in tennis. Lower the arm slowly. Repeat the exercise until your arm is tired. Switch to the right arm.

Exercise 3

Lay on your right side on a table or a bed. Position your left arm along the upper side of your body. The right elbow should be kept a 90 degree angle. Rest the right forearm on the table. Roll your right shoulder in and raise your forearm up to your chest, similar to a forearm swing in tennis. Slowly, lower the forearm. Repeat the exercise until your arm is tired.

Exercise 4

In a standing position, while holding the dumbbells and arms dangling to either side of the body, raise your right arm to a 45 degree angle. Pay close attention not to lift until you experience pain or discomfort. Lower the arm slowly. Repeat the exercise until the arm is tired and perform the exercise on your left arm.

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I run for my aerobic exercise. You can run, walk, dance; whatever you prefer. Just be certain to do aerobics at least 3 – 4 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes each workout. If you are using HIIT or something on that order, obviously you will be spending less time getting in your aerobics.

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