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Rotator Cuff Strengthening Exercises

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Updated July 17, 2014

A physical therapist performing a shoulder PNF pattern on a female patient.To see more physical therapy images click on the link below:
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The rotator cuff consists of a group of four muscles that help lift your arm and rotate it away from your body. These muscles also move the head of the shoulder bone during elevation of your arms.

Unfortunately, the muscles are prone to inflammation and tears during overhead activities. An important way to reduce tears is by strengthening these muscles. The exercises below will show you how to strengthen the muscles of your rotator cuff.

Exercise One:

  • Lie on your stomach on a table or a bed
  • Put one arm out at shoulder level with your elbow bent to 90 degrees and your hand down
  • Keeping your elbow bent, slowly raise your hand
  • Stop when your hand is level with your shoulder
  • Lower the hand slowly
  • Repeat 10 times
  • Perform with opposite arm

Exercise Two:

  • Lie on your side on a bed or the floor
  • Place your upper arm at your side with your elbow bent to 90 degrees, and your forearm resting against your chest, palm down
  • Rotate your shoulder out, raising your forearm until it is level with your shoulder
  • Lower the hand slowly
  • Repeat 10 times
  • Perform with opposite arm

Exercise Three:

  • Stand with your arms slightly behind you with both thumbs down
  • Raise your arms up, pretending that you are emptying a can with each hand
  • Lower the arms slowly
  • Repeat 10 times

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