Whether you used to be or are currently into competitive sports or you just have a physically demanding job, chances are you have had trouble at least once with a shoulder injury. The most common shoulder injury affects the small muscles that make up the Rotator Cuff. These are generally very weak and vulnerable muscles that hold the shoulder joint together as well as control various motions of the arm; particularly rotation.
Injuries often occur from a single traumatic event but even more commonly arise from everyday “wear and tear.” Either way one or more of the muscles and/or tendons that make up the Rotator Cuff becomes torn or damaged in some way, causing pain and movement restriction.
The first step is talking to your doctor to get a proper diagnosis and a referral to get you in contact with a physical therapist to properly rehabilitate your specific injury.
Once you have recovered, talk to your doctor and/or physical therapist about starting this Rotator Cuff Injury Prevention Routine to keep the problem from reoccurring. This combination of exercises is designed to target all of the muscles that make up the Rotator Cuff to help increase endurance and strength to prevent any future injury to this sensitive area of the shoulder.
When doing this routine start small; use a very light weight exercise band and only do 8 to 10 repetitions instead of the full 20 that are done in the video. This will make sure you build a good base of strength and endurance before progressing as doing this routine all the way through with a weak shoulder could cause a fatigue injury, further weakening the shoulders.
Do this workout two or three times a week adding one or two repetitions each time until you build up to 20 repetitions total. Once at a full 20 repetitions, start to slow the motion down, taking a full 6-8 seconds per repetition. Once you can do this without fatigue then you can move up one level to the next exercise band. You must start the process over with 8 to 10 repetitions after moving up in resistance to again protect against injury.
Once you have reached the desired strength and endurance level you can drop down to doing this routine once a week for maintenance.
These motions all target the Rotator Cuff but all in a slightly different way.
- Medial Internal Rotation places the arm at its most stable point, directly next to the ribcage. Starting with the forearm pointing away from the body and pulling toward the stomach is the strongest motion for these small muscles to perform.
- Medial External Rotation is the next strongest as it also has the arm by the side but this time pulls the arm away from the stomach; a much weaker motion than its opposite.
- Ventral Internal Rotation brings the elbow up in front of the shoulder socket placing the arm at a slightly more vulnerable position but is still relatively strong as the arm pulls in.
- Ventral External Rotation is a weak arm position as well as a weak motion as the arm moves away from the body. Be careful to use correct form.
- Lateral Internal Rotation brings the arm to its most vulnerable position but uses the stronger motion of pulling the arm down towards the body. Be conscious of form with this exercise.
- Lateral External Rotation is the most vulnerable position and motion that we do in this routine. This position is incredibly weak so great care must be taken to move slowly and not to overwork the muscle when doing this exercise.
- Rotational Lateral Raise is a much more stable position but be sure to use only light weight with this exercise as heavy resistance will cause the deltoid (large muscle on the outside of the shoulder) to take over and not let the rotator cuff engage properly.
Though we do not show this in the video you can also add the Rotational Lateral Pull Down to target the opposing muscles to the ones used in the Rotational Lateral Raise. The motion is the same but you must attach the band to something overhead in order to activate the proper muscles. Just be sure to mimic the arm motion identically.
Remember, talk to your doctor or physical therapist before starting this routine or any other workout program.