5 Best Shoulder Exercises To Strengthen Your Rotator Cuff

To bounce back from injury, or to prevent future injury, you can strengthen your shoulders, increase your range of movement, and relieve moderate pain and stiffness by performing shoulder exercises. If you perform them on a regular basis, these exercises can prevent the need for more radical treatment including surgery.

Shoulder injury causes fall into two categories. The first is is a result of aging and general wear and tear and the second is the result of applying too much force on the tendons and rotator cuff. The tendons of the rotator cuff muscles receive little blood circulation, thus making it more susceptible to degeneration. Force injuries are often from attempting to lift an object that is too heavy. This excess force is directly transferred to the tendons and cause shoulder and rotator cuff injuries.

Here are 5 exercises to help strengthen rotator cuff muscles and relieve your shoulder pain:

1. Arm Swings

Simple SLOW “big circle” arm rotations using only the weight of your arms. Perform 10 to 20 rotations forwards and backwards, a great movement to increase your range of motion after surgery or immobilization of the joint.

2. Cross Body Shoulder Stretch

Start in an upright position, slowly raise one arm and bring it across your upper body towards the opposite side. As it moves in front of your body, use your free arm to pull and apply a little pressure in the elbow area.

3. Cobra Chest Raises


Start by lying facedown on a flat surface with your hands below your shoulders similar to a push-up position. Now raise your upper chest and torso off the floor up to but not past the point of pain. Keep your pelvis and lower body flat on the floor. Hold for 5 seconds, then rest for about 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.

4. Bicep Curls


While standing upright, grasp a light barbell or pair of light dumbbells. Hold your weights with your palms facing upwards, flex your arms to form an angle about 90 degrees, then curl the weight up to your chest and chin for 10 repetitions. Increase the weight as you grow stronger.

5. Bradford Presses

Squats with barbell

Use a very lightweight barbell, an empty bar or a broomstick if the weight of a barbell bar cannot be tolerated by your shoulder muscles if injured. Grip the bar a slightly wider than shoulder width. Push the bar up above and over your head and lower it behind your head. Pause briefly and then bring the bar back to the top of your head and return to the front. Repeat the alternate steps 10-15 times. Note: Do not use weighted bars if you’ve just begun shoulder rehabilitation, especially if you’ve recently undergone surgical repairs. Perform all exercises slowly without bouncing.

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