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What is Your Rotator Cuff and Why is it Important?

What is Your Rotator Cuff and Why is it Important?

We’ve all likely either had ourselves, or known someone that has had, rotator cuff strains, rotator cuff impingement, or rotator cuff tears.  As common as it is, most do not know what the rotator cuff is or why it is so important for the shoulder.  Rotator cuff strengthening exercises are important whether you’re rehabbing back from pain or injury, trying to improve performance in sport or in the gym, or just looking for mobile and healthy shoulders.

 

Rotator Cuff | Inside Out Strength and Performance Physical Therapy Carlsbad California

 

The rotator cuff consists of four muscles that run from your scapula (shoulder blade) and attach onto your humerus (upper arm).  These muscles actively help the arm to rotate, but they also play a big role in stabilizing the shoulder.  The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in our body, and with great mobility comes great responsibility.  The more mobile a joint, the more your body relies on surrounding musculature to support the joint.

To clarify, the rotator cuff alone is not responsible for strong and healthy shoulders.  These muscles are much smaller than some of our bigger surrounding musculature (lats, pecs, deltoids, triceps, etc.).  While the small muscles play a direct role, all muscles around the shoulder need to be working correctly for healthy shoulders.  On top of the muscles working correctly, the joints surrounding also have to have good mobility and proper movement.  That is why an individualized assessment from a skilled movement practitioner is always recommended if you’re dealing with pain or injury.

Assuming your shoulders are already healthy and that your mobility is not an issue, then strengthening the rotator cuff can have some great benefits.  This is especially true for the overhead athlete (baseball, softball, volleyball, swimming, etc.) as well as the fitness athlete and weightlifters that do a lot of heavy overhead lifting.

Exercises to Strengthen Your Rotator Cuff

Below are some of our favorite variations for strengthening different areas of the shoulder, specifically the rotator cuff.  With all of these movements, how you do them is more important than how much resistance or repetitions you are performing.  Always focus on form first, if you’re not sure how to perform them correctly make sure you see a skilled movement practitioner.  A slight tweak in your technique with an exercise can greatly change the effectiveness of the movement.  Here are some of our favorite rotator cuff exercises:

3 Way Rotator Cuff Strengthener

The key for this one is to go light, but to keep tension on the shoulder throughout the entire movement. Try to avoid letting the shoulder shrug up towards the ears with each movement.

 

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💥3 Way Shoulder Health💥 . SWIPE for Video ➡️ . 💡This week we’re going through some movements to improve rotator cuff strength . 🏋️‍♂️Your rotator cuff plays a big role in the stability of your shoulder joint, and while rotator cuff injures always have many factors to consider, working on strengthening this area can result in better shoulder strength and health . 💪🏼 Inspiration on this one comes from Zach Long @thebarbellphysio. Here’s 3 different movements you can perform lying on your side to build a stronger rotator cuff and improve the overall health of your shoulder . 🔑 Start light (even the weight of your arm) if you haven’t done this before. The goal is to keep tension on the shoulder throughout the range of motion. Start with 10 of each of the 3 movements performed in a row . ❓Questions or thoughts? Comment below . 👫Know someone who could benefit? Tag them below and share it . 📞Dealing with pain or injury that won’t go away? Follow the link in my profile for a free coaching call . 🏃‍♀️I help active individuals maximize performance and get out of pain at our Performance PT clinic in North County San Diego and remotely through online programming and coaching

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Prone Retraction, External Rotation, Flexion with Bench

Same focus as above exercise

 

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💥Retraction to ER to Press💥 . SWIPE for Video ➡️ . 💡This week we’re going through some movements to improve rotator cuff strength . 🏋️‍♂️Your rotator cuff plays a big role in the stability of your shoulder joint, and while rotator cuff injures always have many factors to consider, working on strengthening this area can result in better shoulder strength and health . 💪🏼 I’ve been loving this banded exercise for clients looking to improve stability and mobility of their shoulder. A little bit goes a long way in terms of resistance for this movement . 🔑 Drive the elbows back keeping the shoulder blades pulled back, rotate the hands overhead, and then keep core tight and shoulders down as you press overhead . ❓Questions or thoughts? Comment below . 👫Know someone who could benefit? Tag them below and share it . 📞Dealing with pain or injury that won’t go away? Follow the link in my profile for a free coaching call . 🏃‍♀️I help active individuals maximize performance and get out of pain at our Performance PT clinic in North County San Diego and remotely through online programming and coaching

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Emphasize the retraction (squeezing shoulder blades back) before initiating the movement. Try to avoid letting the shoulders shrug up towards the ears.

Banded Face Pull, External Rotation, Flexion

 

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💥Retraction to ER to Press💥 . SWIPE for Video ➡️ . 💡This week we’re going through some movements to improve rotator cuff strength . 🏋️‍♂️Your rotator cuff plays a big role in the stability of your shoulder joint, and while rotator cuff injures always have many factors to consider, working on strengthening this area can result in better shoulder strength and health . 💪🏼 I’ve been loving this banded exercise for clients looking to improve stability and mobility of their shoulder. A little bit goes a long way in terms of resistance for this movement . 🔑 Drive the elbows back keeping the shoulder blades pulled back, rotate the hands overhead, and then keep core tight and shoulders down as you press overhead . ❓Questions or thoughts? Comment below . 👫Know someone who could benefit? Tag them below and share it . 📞Dealing with pain or injury that won’t go away? Follow the link in my profile for a free coaching call . 🏃‍♀️I help active individuals maximize performance and get out of pain at our Performance PT clinic in North County San Diego and remotely through online programming and coaching

A post shared by Dr. Dave Paczkowski, PT (@iostrengthperformance) on

Banded PNF Diagonal Patterns

Use a band that’s light enough that you do not find yourself shrugging your shoulder at the top of the movement.

 

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💥Banded Diagonals💥 . SWIPE for Video ➡️ . 💡This week we’re going through some movements to improve rotator cuff strength . 🏋️‍♂️Your rotator cuff plays a big role in the stability of your shoulder joint, and while rotator cuff injures always have many factors to consider, working on strengthening this area can result in better shoulder strength and health . 💪🏼 Diagonal patterns like these variations are great strengtheners that help the shoulder with the demands of sport and life . 🔑 When overhead, pull the shoulder down and keep from excessively shrugging up . ❓Questions or thoughts? Comment below . 👫Know someone who could benefit? Tag them below and share it . 📞Dealing with pain or injury that won’t go away? Follow the link in my profile for a free coaching call . 🏃‍♀️I help active individuals maximize performance and get out of pain at our Performance PT clinic in North County San Diego and remotely through online programming and coaching

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Kettlebell Screwdriver and Bottoms Up Variations

Start light and work through the full range of motion.  Focus on keeping the kettlebell in a direct line over your shoulder.  Keep shoulder pulled away from your ear and try to keep everything as still as possible.  No dropping any weights on your face, please.

 

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💥Kettlebell Screwdriver💥 . SWIPE for Video ➡️ . 💡This week we’re going through some movements to improve rotator cuff strength . 🏋️‍♂️Your rotator cuff plays a big role in the stability of your shoulder joint, and while rotator cuff injures always have many factors to consider, working on strengthening this area can result in better shoulder strength and health . 💪🏼 This movement is another one of those surprisingly challenging movements, especially for those with shoulder problems. Being able to stabilize the shoulder while controlling rotation is huge for pain free daily and gym activities . 🔑 Keep your shoulder pulled down and wrist in a strong position. Rotate your shoulder in and out while keeping the arm perpendicular to the ground . ❓Questions or thoughts? Comment below . 👫Know someone who could benefit? Tag them below and share it . 📞Dealing with pain or injury that won’t go away? Follow the link in my profile for a free coaching call . 🏃‍♀️I help active individuals maximize performance and get out of pain at our Performance PT clinic in North County San Diego and remotely through online programming and coaching

A post shared by Dr. Dave Paczkowski, PT (@iostrengthperformance) on

Half Kneeling Bottoms up Kettlebell Press

Push into the wall with your hand to help stabilize your core.  Keep your core tight and braced as you press overhead.

We don’t give any thought to our rotator cuff when it is working correctly. 

 

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💥Kneeling Bottoms Up KB Press💥 . SWIPE for Video ➡️ . 💡This week we’re going through some movements to improve rotator cuff strength . 🏋️‍♂️Your rotator cuff plays a big role in the stability of your shoulder joint, and while rotator cuff injures always have many factors to consider, working on strengthening this area can result in better shoulder strength and health . 💪🏼 The Bottoms Up press works wonders for both grip and shoulder strength. The position of the kettlebell forces a vertical pressing pattern, which can expose some weaknesses while also being a great tool for recovering (or trying to avoid) injury . 🔑 Keep your wrist in a strong and straight position. Push into the wall with your opposite hand to activate your core, and press overhead while keeping core tight. Please use a spotter or wear a helmet if you haven’t tired this before ⛑️ . ❓Questions or thoughts? Comment below . 👫Know someone who could benefit? Tag them below and share it . 📞Dealing with pain or injury that won’t go away? Follow the link in my profile for a free coaching call . 🏃‍♀️I help active individuals maximize performance and get out of pain at our Performance PT clinic in North County San Diego and remotely through online programming and coaching

A post shared by Dr. Dave Paczkowski, PT (@iostrengthperformance) on

However, when it’s not, this can cause all sorts of pain, limited mobility, and limitations with your workouts and the activities you love most.  We see people every single day that have been putting off these activities for weeks, months, or even years due to pain or a fear of further injury.  While this is common, this is by no means normal.

We help people just like you get back to all the activities you love safely and effectively for years to come.  Don’t let a fear of injury or pain hold you back, contact us today to speak with one of our Docs to get back to the activities you love most.

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