The likelihood of injuring your rotator cuff increases significantly as you age. An article published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that only 4% of adults under 40 had a rotator cuff tear. The same article also reported that 54% of adults over 60 had dealt with this injury.
Rotator cuff injuries can benefit greatly from physical therapy. This treatment option is designed to reduce the pain of such injuries, and it can also help strengthen the rotator cuff and shoulders. Physical therapists can help you improve the flexibility of the rotator cuff and increase the shoulder’s range of motion. One therapy method that is used to work toward these goals is rotator cuff rehab exercises, and there are two exercises in particular that your therapist might recommend.
1. Passive external rotation
Therapists tend to use passive exercises during the initial stages of rotator cuff recovery. These therapeutic exercises are designed to move the shoulder and arm, but they aren’t intended to engage the rotator cuff muscles. The movement of passive exercises can help stretch muscles and increase blood flow to them. One passive exercise that may be included in your rotator cuff rehab exercises list is passive external rotation.
Steps for performing the passive external rotation exercise
You’ll need a short stick to perform this exercise; a short dowel rod or a yardstick will work perfectly.
Place your affected elbow at your side with your forearm bent at a 90-degree angle. The forearm should be pointing straight out in front of you.
Grab one end of the stick with each hand.
Using the unaffected hand, slowly push the affected hand outward as far as you can without pain.
Hold this position for 30 seconds. You can start with a shorter time and work your way up to 30 seconds if necessary.
Return to the starting position.
2. Lying horizontal abduction
As your recovery progresses, you can add more active rotator cuff rehab exercises to your daily routine. An example of one your therapist might recommend is the lying horizontal abduction.
Steps for performing the lying horizontal abduction exercise
- Lie down on a table or bed so that your affected arm is hanging over the side. Your head should also be turned slightly toward the arm you’ll be working with.
- With your palm facing the bed, slowly raise the affected arm until it’s at about eye level.
- Slowly lower your arm back to the starting position.
- Repeat these steps until you’ve done eight to 10 repetitions. Your goal should be to complete three sets of this exercise with a little rest between each set. The difficulty of this exercise can also be increased by adding a light hand weight. People who don’t have a hand weight can use a soup can or other light household object.
You can find help with rotator cuff rehab exercises and more at Armor Physical Therapy
Our Armor Physical Therapy team can help you find the best rotator cuff rehab exercises for you, but we can also offer you so much more. Our team can help you begin your recovery with a free screening. The information we gather in this screening will be used to build you a personalized recovery plan, and you plan can include many beneficial therapy methods like:
Are you ready to start getting our help with a rotator cuff injury? Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an appointment.