Best Stretches and Rotator Cuff Exercises to Prevent Injury
According to studies, almost everyone between the ages of 18 and 88 will experience some shoulder issues, including rotator cuff injuries. The tendons and four muscles that make up the rotator cuff provide stability and rotate the shoulder. Overusing the rotator cuff by pitching a baseball or swinging a tennis racket again and again can cause a rotator cuff tear. If you incorporate these stretches and rotator cuff exercises into your daily routine or workout, you can help prevent a painful injury.
What Causes Rotator Cuff Injuries
Rotator cuff injuries can be due to:
- An accident or trauma
- Lifting something too heavy
- A family history of rotator cuff injuries
- Bone spurs in the bones around the shoulders
- Jobs that require a lot of shoulder use, such as painting, carpentry, laying flooring, or swinging a hammer or axe
- Shoulder arthritis can make the shoulder unstable and more likely to develop a rotator cuff injury
- Overusing the rotator cuff during sports such as baseball, tennis, rowing, swimming or weightlifting
- Wear and tear as we age: rotator cuff injuries are most common in people over the age of 40, even people who don’t play sports
Keeping your rotator cuff muscles flexible and strong will help prevent injuries.
Parallel Arm Shoulder Stretch
Hold this stretch for 20 seconds per arm. This stretch is so simple and easy, you can do it before starting work or throughout your day to keep your rotator cuffs limber!
Reverse Shoulder Stretch
Clasp hands behind your back and slowly lift upwards until you feel tension. Hold this stretch for 20 seconds. This is another easy stretch to do throughout your day to improve flexibility, and relieve tension and stress.
Cow Face Pose
This yoga pose is now a common shoulder stretch. Gently reach your hands behind your back, as illustrated in the photo below, and stretch your hands toward each other. If this stretch is challenging, hold a hand towel above your head as you stretch back, then grab the other end of the towel with the opposite hand. Pull lightly on the towel with the upper hand until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold for 30 seconds.
Downward Facing Dog
This well-known yoga pose both stretches and strengthens the shoulders and rotator cuffs muscles (along with muscles throughout the body!) Start in a neutral position on your hands and knees before gently pushing yourself into downward facing dog. Don’t force your legs straight – a straight back and properly aligned shoulders are more important than straight legs. In fact, you can do this pose with bent legs.
This video will help explain how to accurately align yourself in downward facing dog to get the best results from this amazing yoga position:
Strength Exercises to Prevent Rotator Cuff Injuries
These exercises promote balanced strength in your shoulder and help prevent injury. This video will walk you through exercises you can do with a resistance band to strengthen your rotator cuff muscles:
Are you dealing with shoulder pain? Don’t try to self diagnose online – contact Go To Ortho to see an injury specialist. You can also stop by the clinic – we accept walk-in patients with no referral needed.