Tag Archive for: Bent-Over Horizontal Abduction

Easy Exercises for Rotator Cuff Pain

The rotator cuff, which is often improperly referred to as the rotator ‘cup’, is the section of your shoulder where four different muscles and tendons come together and connect to the upper arm bone or humerus.

These four separate muscles are the Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor and Subscapularis. These muscles come together to form a fanned-out cone-like shape, which can be likened to a flared shirt sleeve.

Each of these muscles has a slightly different function, and they work together to achieve various ranges of motion. This includes stabilising the head of the humerus in the shoulder joint, abducting or elevating the shoulder joint out to the side, externally rotating the shoulder joint and depressing the head of the humerus.

Essentially, all of the muscles work together to constantly ensure that the humerus remains fixed securely in the shoulder joint throughout the shoulder’s wide range of motion.

What Is a Rotator Cuff Injury?

Rotator cuff injury can occur when any one of the muscles that make up the rotator cuff get damaged. You will know immediately when you have injured your rotator cuff as you are very likely to experience pain or weakness when lifting your arms. However, in some rare instances, people who have a rotator cuff injury have no knowledge of it. Damage to the rotator cuff can be in the form of a rotator cuff tear, rotator cuff tendonitis, shoulder impingement, shoulder bursitis, shoulder labrum tear or shoulder separation.

The most common rotator cuff injuries are in the form of tears and impingements. Impingement happens when one of the rotator cuff muscles becomes inflamed, and the swelling then squeezes the space between the arm and the bone, causing pain. On the other hand, a tear is a more severe type of injury whereby the tendon or muscle gets torn.

These injuries can occur through a single traumatic event such as a fall or during sports or slow, progressive degeneration of the muscles over months or years. It can also happen if a mild injury is not given the proper time to heal.

What Can I do After Injuring My Rotator Cuff?

Following the injury of your rotator cuff, you should apply ice to reduce the pain and swelling. The ice will reduce inflammation and help with the pain. The cold stops cellular atrophy and reduces the formation of scar tissue. The icing should also be followed by ample rest during the initial phase immediately post-injury to prevent further exacerbation of the injury. Light exercises should follow this to regain full range of motion.

When Should I See a Doctor for a Rotator Cuff Injury?

You should see a doctor if your pain and swelling do not improve after the first day or so and you have difficulty raising or sleeping on your arm. This could be indicative that your injury is a tear and not just a sprain or impingement.

A tear that cannot be healed through the use of ice and exercise left untreated could become a permanent problem for you. Very sharp pains upon movement of your shoulder are tell-tale signs of a tear in your rotator cuff, and this should warrant you going to see a doctor as surgery may be required.

What Are Some Easy Exercises for Rotator Cuff Pain?

If your pain starts to fade or you’ve already seen the doctor, and they’ve told you that there’s no tear. You can start these exercises to nurse your rotator cuff back to full health.

We’ve included this video to show you some easy rotator cuff exercises that can be done anywhere and any time.

Alternatively, we’ve listed the steps for some other easy rotator cuff exercises if you’ve suffered from a rotator cuff injury.

Doorway Stretch 

  • Stand with your feet together.
  • Bend your elbows and extend your arms out to your side as if you were about to embrace someone.
  • Place one foot forward, lean into the doorway arches with both hands on the frame, and then grip the sides tightly. Continue leaning into the door and keep your grip tight on the frame.
  • Lean forward until you feel the stretch across your chest.
  • Hold this stretch for 5 deep breaths and repeat this 8 times.
  • Do 3 sets of this at least 3 times a week.

Sleeper Stretch

  • Lie down on your side and place your affected shoulder under your body. With your arm bent and out in front of you, and your fist facing straight up to the ceiling. You may use a pillow should you need to.
  • Use your other arm to hold the affected arm towards the ground. Stop this pressing motion as soon as you feel a stretch in the back of your affected shoulder.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds, then relax your arm for 30 seconds and repeat this 8 times.
  • Do 3 sets of this at least 3 times a week.

Internal Rotation

  • Lie down on your side, place your affected shoulder slightly out, so it is not exactly under your body, and tuck your elbow into your ribs. You may use a pillow should you need to.
  • Hold your injured arm against your side keeping your elbow bent at a 90° angle. You may carry a lightweight in your arm, but you do not need to.
  • Make sure your elbow is fixed into your ribs, slowly rotate your arm at the shoulder, and raise your arm up and into your body.
  • Slowly lower the weight to the initial position and repeat this 8 times.
  • Do 3 sets of this at least 3 times a week.

Bent-Over Horizontal Abduction

  • Lie down on your belly on a raised platform such as a table or bed with enough space between the platform and the floor so that you can hang the entirety of your injured arm over the side of it.
  • Keep your arm hanging straight down and slowly raise it till it is parallel with the edge of the table and your body.
  • Slowly lower it back to the initial hanging position and repeat the arm raises 8 times.
  • Do 3 sets of this at least 3 times a week.

Reverse Fly

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your knees slightly bent.
  • Make sure your back is straight but bend forward slightly.
  • You may choose to carry a light weight in each hand (but you do not need to) and extend your arms and raise them away from your body. This should resemble a flapping motion.
  • Do not lock your elbows. Squeeze your shoulder blades together with each rep and make sure not to raise your arms back past your shoulders and repeat this 8 times.
  • Do 3 sets of this at least 3 times a week.