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. 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.
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. Once you’ve done this, 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.
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.
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.
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.