Doing Rotator Cuff Stretches to Protect from and Avoid an Injury

By Team Movement for Life | July 9, 2020

The rotator cuff is an important part of your upper-body mobility and arm function. The cuff is made up of a number of small muscles (4 of them) that surround your shoulder and hold your humerus bone in the rotator socket. These muscles allow you to move your arm in all different directions and can be easily aggravated with tears and strains from overuse or sports.

Maintenance of rotator cuff health can be simple, yet make a massive impact in preventing pain and any injuries. You may even find that stretching will improve the performance of your athletics. Paying attention to these muscles through stretching can also strengthen the ligaments associated with this part of your shoulder. These stretches can actually help you identify muscle imbalances which are known to lead to rotator cuff problems.

When doing the stretches be sure to concentrate on your relaxation factor. Most stretches are most effective when you can relax the muscle being stretched rather than holding tension in it.

Here are our top picks for rotator cuff stretches.


Rotator Cuff Stretches # 1

  • In a standing position, hold an exercise band or towel over your head.
  • Extend your arms past the back of your head opening up your chest.
  • Hold the static stretch for 20-30 seconds without bouncing your arms in a backward motion.
  • Release the stretch and repeat 3-5 times.

Rotator Cuff Stretches # 2

  • In the same standing position, hands down at your sides, hold the exercise band/towel behind your back.
  • Extend your arms behind you with your palms articulating towards the ceiling and hold for 5-10 seconds.
  • Lower your arms and extend again articulating your palms facing inward or to each other and hold for 5-10 seconds.
  • Repeat these back to back 3-5 times.

Rotator Cuff Stretches #3

  • Standing with your shoulder against a wall, Extend your arm behind you placing your palm on the wall.
  • Slide your hand slowly up the wall until your elbow comes into alignment with your shoulder.
  • Bend your arm from the elbow bringing your hand towards the ceiling.
  • You may rotate your hips away from the wall to increase this stretch if desired.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, relax and repeat 3-to-5 times.

Rotator Cuff Stretches #4

  • Standing with your back against a wall extend your arms above your head and overlap your hands. Think of the classic diver's position.
  • Lengthen your spine and bend to the left or right until you feel a stretch occurring on the opposite side of your body.
  • Hold this stretch for 15 to 20 seconds.
  • Come back to the neutral spine, and repeat on the other side.
  • Repeat these stretches 3-to-5 times.

Rotator Cuff Stretches #5

  • In a standing position raise either arm and cross it over your body to its opposite side.
  • With the other arm hold it in place gently pulling on the arm to increase the stretch.
  • Relax and repeat on the other side.
  • Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3-to-5 times on each side.

Rotator Cuff Stretches #6

  • Place yourself near a wall and bring either your right or left hand (the back of your hand)to the center of your back.
  • using the wall place gentle pressure on the back portion of your elbow until you feel an anterior stretch in your shoulder.
  • Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds using only gentle pressure.
  • Release and move to the other arm.
  • Repeat this sequence three to five times

With the right care and considerations, you will get a lifelong benefit from these types of stretches. If you have any questions about rotator cuff stretches, please don't hesitate to reach out to us so we can help you with that.