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What Is the Best Exercise for a Rotator Cuff Injury? 5 Exercises

best exercise for rotator cuff injury
Rotator cuff exercises can help relieve shoulder pain, strengthen your muscles, and improve flexibility

Rotator cuff injuries can cause significant pain and difficulty moving your arm. In mild cases, however, exercise can help strengthen your muscles and improve flexibility. 

When it comes to rotator cuff exercises, however, be sure to take it slow, warm up by stretching, and work with your doctor or physical therapist to avoid further injury.

5 rotator cuff exercises to relieve shoulder pain

1. Towel stretch

  • Hold a dish towel behind your back at a 45 degree angle. 
  • With the help of your good arm, slowly pull the towel to bring your injured arm up toward your lower back. 
  • Repeat this stretch 10-20 times.

2. Cross stretch

  • You can sit or stand for this exercise
  • Using your good arm, lift your injured arm at the elbow and bring it up across your body. 
  • Gently press your lifted hand at the elbow to stretch the shoulder. 
  • Hold this position for 15-20 seconds. 
  • Repeat this stretch 10-20 times.

3. Finger walk

  • Stand facing the wall about 3/4 of an arms’ length away. 
  • Touch the wall with the fingers of your injured arm. 
  • Gradually, walk your fingers up the wall until shoulder level or as far as you are able to do so comfortably, letting your fingers do most of the work. 
  • Slowly, lower your arm back to the starting position. 
  • Repeat this exercise 2-4 times.

4. Weighted pendulum

  • You can sit or stand for this exercise.
  • Lean forward and place your good arm on a table or counter for support. 
  • Gently swing your injured arm back and forth and then side to side. 
  • Finally, rotate your arm in a circular motion.

5. Wall press

  • Stand next to a sturdy surface such as a door frame or wall. 
  • Place your arm at a 90 degree angle on the wall and keep a folded towel between your bent arm and your body.
  • Press your palm into the wall while keeping the towel pressed between your arm and body. 
  • Next, turn around so that the outer part of your arm touches the wall. 
  • Try to keep the towel pressed between your arm and body and press your elbow and forearm into the wall. 
  • Repeat the exercises 10 times.

What should you avoid if you have rotator cuff pain?

Rotator cuff injuries are common, especially among people who use their arms frequently like painters and construction workers. If you have rotator cuff pain, avoid these activities to prevent worsening of the condition:

  • Lifting weights above your head or out from the sides of the body
  • Swimming (except for breaststroke or sidestroke)
  • Pushups, bench presses, and shoulder presses
  • Serving overhand in tennis
  • Slouching or using bad posture at your desk

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