Rotator cuff injury? Here are 5 easy exercises you can do at home
We expect a lot from our bodies. Even the simplest of tasks often require multiple joints, muscles and tendons to complete. For example, brushing your hair or picking something up from a high shelf relies on the help of your rotator cuff.
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping the head of your upper arm bone firmly within the shallow socket of the shoulder. A rotator cuff injury can cause a dull ache in the shoulder, which often worsens when you try to sleep on the involved side.
How can you tear your rotator cuff?
Rotator cuff injuries occur most often in people who repeatedly perform overhead motions in their jobs or sports. Examples include painters, carpenters, and people who play baseball or tennis. The risk of rotator cuff injury also increases with age.
Many people recover from rotator cuff injuries with physical therapy and exercises that improve flexibility and strength of the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint.
Treatments Rotator cuff tears are usually treated with physical therapy, although in certain extreme cases you may need to have surgery to repair the damage.
Exercises There are a few specific stretches that will help you regain shoulder strength and range of motion after a rotator cuff tear. These are all exercises you can easily do at home alongside any professional osteopathy treatment you may require. However, please ensure that you would closely with your osteopath in order to ensure that you are performing the stretches correctly, safely and at the recommended frequency.
Our five easy exercises
There are a few specific stretches that will help you regain shoulder strength and range of motion after a rotator cuff tear. These are all exercises you can easily do at home alongside any professional osteopathy treatment you may require. However, please ensure that you would closely with your osteopath in order to ensure that you are performing the stretches correctly, safely and at the recommended frequency.
1️⃣ Crossover arm stretch
- Stand up straight and relax your shoulders. - Gently stretch the injured arm across your chest, using your healthy arm to hold the elbow of your injured arm for stability. - Stretch as far as possible – you shouldn't feel any pain - Repeat the exercise with your healthy arm.
2️⃣ Pendulum swing - Place the hand of your uninjured arm on the side of a table, railing or strong chair for stability. - Lean forward gently, keeping your back straight and allow your injured arm to hang freely. - Gently move your arm back and forth, then from side to side, and finally in small circles, clockwise and then anti-clockwise. - Repeat the exercise with your healthy arm.
3️⃣ Posterior stretch - Stand up straight and relax your shoulders. - Hold the elbow of your injured arm with your healthy arm. - Put the hand of your injured arm on your healthy shoulder. - Use your healthy hand to gently push your injured arm's elbow up and over your body, creating a stretch. - Repeat using the other arm.
4️⃣ Standing row - You will need a stretch band that is tied at the ends to form a three-foot loop. - Attach one end of the loop to a doorknob. - Hold the other end of the loop in your hand, face the doorknob and stand back so the loop is tight. - Bend your elbow at a 90-degree angle. - Gently pull your elbow back so that your shoulder moves. - Repeat with the other arm.
5️⃣ Internal Rotation Start in the same position as the standing row – Three foot loop attached to a steady object, tighten the band using the affected arm and bend your elbow at a 90-degree angle.
- Rather than pulling your elbow back, bring your forearm over your body's midsection in order to rotate your shoulder. - Repeat with the other arm. Pain management and looking forward
Even with an injury, these exercises and stretches should not be overly painful. If you do experience pain, please stop immediately and consult your osteopath, as they will be able to suggest adjustments to your exercise plan. In addition, icing straight after stretching will help to calm inflammation, so it is advised that you invest in an ice pack. By following any prescribed treatment from your osteopath, and carrying out these simple yet effective exercises, you can soon be enjoying normal, pain-free function after a rotator cuff repair.