Thumbnail image of: Rotator Cuff Injury Exercises: Illustration, page 1
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Rotator Cuff Injury Exercises

Your healthcare provider may recommend exercises to help you heal. Talk to your healthcare provider or physical therapist about which exercises will best help you and how to do them correctly and safely.

  • Latissimus dorsi strengthening: Sit on a firm chair. Place your hands on the seat on either side of you. Lift your buttocks off the chair. Hold this position for 5 seconds and then relax. Repeat 15 times. Do 2 sets of 15.
  • Horizontal abduction: Lie on your stomach on a table or the edge of a bed with the arm on your injured side hanging down over the edge. Raise your arm out to the side, with your thumb pointed toward the ceiling, until your arm is parallel to the floor. Hold for 2 seconds and then lower it slowly. Start this exercise with no weight. As you get stronger, add a light weight or hold a soup can. Do 2 sets of 15.
  • Resisted shoulder external rotation: Stand sideways next to a door with your injured arm farther from the door. Tie a knot in the end of the tubing and shut the knot in the door at waist level. Hold the other end of the tubing with the hand of your injured arm. Rest the hand of your injured arm across your stomach. Keeping your elbow in at your side, rotate your arm outward and away from your waist. Slowly return your arm to the starting position. Make sure you keep your elbow bent 90 degrees and your forearm parallel to the floor. Repeat 10 times. Build up to 2 sets of 15.
  • Resisted shoulder internal rotation: Stand sideways next to a door with your injured arm closest to the door. Tie a knot in the end of the tubing and shut the knot in the door at waist level. Hold the other end of the tubing with the hand of your injured arm. Bend the elbow of your injured arm 90 degrees. Keeping your elbow in at your side, rotate your forearm across your body and then slowly back to the starting position. Make sure you keep your forearm parallel to the floor. Do 2 sets of 8 to 12.
  • Scaption: Stand with your arms at your sides and with your elbows straight. Slowly raise your arms to eye level. As you raise your arms, spread them apart so that they are only slightly in front of your body (at about a 30-degree angle to the front of your body). Point your thumbs toward the ceiling. Hold for 2 seconds and lower your arms slowly. Do 2 sets of 15. Progress to holding a soup can or light weight when you are doing the exercise and increase the weight as the exercise gets easier.
  • Side-lying external rotation: Lie on your uninjured side with your injured arm at your side and your elbow bent 90 degrees. Keeping your elbow against your side, raise your forearm toward the ceiling and hold for 2 seconds. Slowly lower your arm. Do 2 sets of 15. You can start doing this exercise holding a soup can or light weight and gradually increase the weight as long as there is no pain.
  • Push-up with a plus: Begin on the floor on your hands and knees. Keep your hands a shoulder width apart and lift your feet off the floor. Arch your back as high as possible and round your shoulders (this is the “plus” part or the exercise). Bend your elbows and lower your upper body to the floor. Return to the starting position and arch your back again. Do 2 sets of 15.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-06-09
Last reviewed: 2014-05-07
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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