Many of us have experienced shoulder pain and weakness which ultimately affects the ability to perform activities we once thought were simple. The rotator cuff is one group of muscles that may be a culprit of these issues. The prevalence of rotator cuff dysfunction increases with age, with 20% of those in their 60s and 31% of those in their 70s having a rotator cuff tear.1 Additionally, many people with rotator cuff tears may have no pain or weakness at the moment, however if left untreated that tear may progress into a symptomatic tear.
There are exercises that research has shown to be useful in strengthening the rotator cuff, therefore reducing the risk of future injury. The exercises outlined below are based on EMG studies which look at the degree of activation in a specific muscle during the exercise. These exercises have demonstrated high levels of rotator cuff activation and were found to be tolerated well by patients with both rotator cuff and scapular (shoulder blade) dysfunction and pain. Incorporation of these exercises into a training program has been shown to improve strength, muscular endurance and athletic performance in overhead athletes.2
If you want to prevent shoulder issues and improve your strength, try a few of these out and let us know what you think! There are full videos of the exercises on both our facebook & instagram accounts!
- Yamaguchi K, Tetro AM, Blam O, Evanoff BA, Teefey SA, Middleton WD. Natural history of asymptomatic rotator cuff tears: a longitudinal analysis of asymptomatic tears detected sonographically. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2001;10:199–203. doi: 10.1067/mse.2001.113086.
- American Physical Therapy Association, Orthopedic Section. Current concepts of orthopedics. 2006. La Crosse, WI.