The rotator cuff is a small group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder which allow the shoulder joint to rotate the upper arm. When the shoulder joint is strained past its normal range of motion, there's a chance that the rotator cuff will also be injured. Rotator cuff and shoulder exercises can help rehabilitate injuries and prevent future strains.
Rotator Cuff Lift
Strengthening the rotator cuff will solidify the shoulder joint and reduce the change of sprain, soreness and dislocation. When you should start rotator cuff exercise after incurring a shoulder injury will depend on the severity of the damage. Use pain and discomfort as a barometer of you injury while you do exercises for rehab: you should never exercise through pain.
To begin exercising the rotator cuff, find an elevated surface that you can lie down on like a weight bench. Lie down on one side, and prop up the elbow of the arm near the floor on the bench. Use the hand of the arm closest to the floor to support the other arm at the bicep, allowing that arm to droop toward the floor under the weight of gravity. Now rotate the drooping arm outward, until the forearm is parallel with the floor. The motion involved in this exercise is small, and may seem like it is not doing much at first, but continue doing repetitions until you feel fatigue in the rotator cuff muscles. You can increase the difficulty of the exercise by holding a dumbbell in your hand.
Strengthening the rotator cuff is very important for rehabilitating any shoulder injury, but strengthening the larger supporting muscles of the shoulder can also help stabilize the joint and protect the rotator cuff. To perform the shoulder cross, begin by taking dumbbells of equal weight in both hands. Stand with the weight resting at your side, and then raise your arms out to your sides, until they are parallel with the floor. Keep your arms straight throughout the lift so that at the top of every repetition your body and arms form a cross shape. Your goal should be to do many repetitions with a low amount of weight until fatigued--using too much weight too soon can exacerbate injuries and slow rehab time.
To do the skiing shoulder exercise, start in the same position as the shoulder cross: stand with a dumbbell in each hand. Net raise one of your arms straight out in front of you, as if you are reaching forward to plant a cross country ski pole in the ground. At the same time move the opposite arm straight back, as if you had just pushed off the ground with a ski pole. Once both arms are extended--one forward and one back--slowly bring both arms back down and reverse the position. Continue in this manner until the shoulder muscles fatigue. Keeping the weight under control and avoiding swinging is imperative since proper form and control will build muscle and stability more quickly.
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