Rotator Cuff Therapy – 5 Exercises for Relief

By Team Movement For Life | February 28, 2020


One of the most common injuries that any athlete encounters is an injury to the rotator cuff.

The rotator cuff is a set of four muscles that surround and stabilize the shoulder and help it to move freely in all the directions.


When you have a rotator cuff injury, it is almost always one of two different types on injury: an impingement, or a tear.


An impingement is when one or more of your rotator cuff muscles swells up and minimizes the space between the arm and the bones in your shoulder.

Impingement generally occurs because of overuse or muscle strain. A tear, although less common, is seriously debilitating because a tendon or muscle in your rotator cuff gets torn, and needs to heal.

When you suffer from a rotator cuff injury, there are certain exercises that can help you recover or find relief.


If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you with your rotator cuff injury, you can request an appointment with one of our clinics today.


Static or isometric exercise

This exercise involves placing the palm of your injured side against a sturdy and stationary object such as the door, a wall, or another person.

  • Next, you need to push against the stationary object.
  • Continue doing this until you experience pain.

Because this exercise is stationary, it can be performed within a week of injury, as long as it is pain-free.




Pendulum Exercise

This exercise aims to increase mobility in your shoulder. You need to stand and place your uninjured arm on a steady surface, such as a table or a railing, and bend slightly forward.

  • Then, swing your injured arm in a gentle circular motion in front of you.
  • Start off with small circles and gradually increase the size to improve the range of motion.



External Rotation

  • For this exercise, you should bend the elbow of your injured arm to a 90-degree position and hold your upper arm close to your torso.
  • Use a lightweight dumbbell and move your forearm from one side to the other.
  • Keep rotating until you feel a strain on your shoulder.

This exercise strengthens your rotator cuff muscles after an injury.




Crossover Arm Stretch

This is a simple exercise that targets your posterior shoulder muscles.

  • Start off by relaxing your shoulders.
  • Then stretch your injured arm across your chest to the other side, and hold it with your other arm.
  • Hold this position until your feel a strain in your muscle, and repeat.


Standing Rows

This exercise also aims at strengthening your rotator cuff muscles.

  • You need to get a stretch band and secure it to a steady object.
  • Face the band and stand back to stretch it out.
  • Hold the band in your hand, bend your injured arm at the elbow, and stretch it back down.
  • Repeat this exercise according to the instructions of your physical therapist.

Along with exercises like these, other tricks, like applying an ice pack and warm compress alternately, and giving plenty of rest to the injured shoulder, can also provide relief and help with quick recovery of the affected rotator cuff muscle.




After an injury what do I do?

There are many options you can take after you get injured. One common method that you can try is the Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation often called "RICE". Remember that doctors typically suggest this treatment for soft tissue injuries. The parts of "RICE" are made up of:

  • Rest: Avoid using the area that is injured
  • Ice: Apply ice or a bag of frozen items to the injured part of your body (avoid touching the skin as it will uncomfortable)
  • Compression: Do try and wrap the area that is injured with some some of bandage to limit the ability of the skin to swell and to help reduce the blood flow throughout the area.
  • Elevation: Try and elevate the injured area to above the heart to make sure to reduce the amount of swelling in the injured area.

How Can "RICE" Help My Rotator Cuff?

The "RICE" framework can help you with injuries and issues like "frozen shoulder" and a shorter "range of motion".


As always, make sure that you discuss any injuries you have, and treatment possibilities, with a doctor and a physical therapist, before starting or attempting any exercises for treatment.

They can help make sure you’re getting exactly the right recovery exercises for your injury, and help you to avoid making mistakes that could further damage you.



Now that you know exercises that can help with a rotator cuff injury, you can start the road to recovery.

We hope you've found this article very insightful and helpful. If you'd like to learn how we can help treat your rotator cuff injury, request an appointment today with one of our clinics.