The best rotator cuff stretches

Written by jim thomas
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The best rotator cuff stretches
Rotor cuff problems plague both the athletic and the elderly. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Rotator cuff injuries are defined as tears, strains or inflammation of the rotator cuff's muscles and tendons. Some stretches for the rotator cuff can help you prevent injuries, while others can help you recover. These injuries are usually caused from the degeneration of the shoulder joint, or from an injury to the joint caused by a sharp blow or an awkward fall. The area of the rotator cuff receives relatively few nutrients and little blood, so degeneration of the area is common in elderly people.

Prevention Exercises

Stretching and strengthening the shoulder area is the best way to prevent rotator cuff injuries. The Stretching Handbook recommends two preventive stretches. The first stretch involves standing with your hands linked and straight out behind you. Slowly lift your hands upwards, hold for 15 to 20 seconds, and repeat three to four times. The second stretch put lots of stress on the rotator cuff tendons, so be careful not to stretch to the point of pain or discomfort. Stand with your arm out and forearm pointed at the sky. Take a pole or stick and let it fall behind your elbow. With your other hand, pull the bottom of the pole towards you. Hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds, and repeat three to four times.


A doctor or physical therapist should monitor your treatment if you have injured your rotator cuff. Avoid doing strengthening exercises too quickly, as this can further damage the shoulder by causing microscopic tears, which can lead to chronic inflammation. Do strengthening exercises every second day to give the muscles time to recover.

Rehabilitation Stretching

Do a variety of stretches to work all of the muscles and tendons in the shoulder joint to recover from a rotator cuff injury. These include internal and external rotation exercises, stabilising exercises for your shoulder blade, stretches for your biceps and overall shoulder area, and stabilising exercises for your shoulder blade. To do a wall press-up exercise, for example, stand about 18 inches from a wall, place your hands on the wall at shoulder level, and slowly lower yourself to the wall and then back to the starting position.

Preventive and Post-injury

FamilyDoctor website recommends four stretches to strengthen your rotator cuff area to prevent shoulder problems or to treat rotator cuffs during rehabilitation. Stand with your hands at your sides, holding weights in both hands. Raise both hands to the side to about a 45-degree angle. Repeat until your arm is tired. Use weights that are light enough to enable you to do 20 to 30 repetitions. Start with just 55g (2oz) weights the first week and increase every week by 55g but never lift a weight that causes pain. Put an ice pack on your shoulder for 20 minutes after your completing the entire stretching routine.

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