Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy Stretches & Exercises

Hi, I'm Doctor Jo, a Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy. I hope you enjoy my video demos of stretches & exercises for common injuries and syndromes. Be safe. Have fun. And I hope you feel better soon.

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Rotator cuff tendinopathy can cause pain and tenderness in the shoulder joint especially when you are reaching overhead, behind your back, lifting something, or sleeping on the side that has the tendinopathy. These stretches and exercises should help.

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The first stretches are called pendulums. Use a chair or counter top for balance, and lean over so your arm hangs down towards the ground. Move your body, not your arm in circles so your arm swings around like a pendulum. You can also rock front to back and side to side. Start off with 10 of each and work your way up to a minute of each.

Then grab a cane or PVC pipe so you can move your arm and shoulder passively. The arm just goes along for the ride. You are moving the cane with your good arm up and down taking the other one up with it without actively moving your injured arm. Standing up or sitting, take the cane, stick, or a towel with your good arm, and drape it back behind your shoulder. Grab it below and behind your back with the arm to be stretched. Gently pull upward with the good arm, pulling the bad arm up the back. You can hold this for 30 seconds, repeating 3 times, or you can pull it up and down 10 times continuously.

Still using the stick, now lie down on the ground with your arms in the “stop sign” position. Move the stick with your good arm up and back over your head, and let the bad arm go for a ride until you feel a good stretch. You can do a little pause, or hold these for 10-15 seconds.

For the next exercise you will lie down on your side, and the arm you want to work will be on the ground for internal rotation. This time put your arm slightly in front of you, so you are not lying on your arm. Keeping that 90 degree angle at your elbow, and your forearm out in front of you, bring your forearm up to your stomach, and then slowly come back down. Start off with 10 of these, and then work your way up to 20-25. If that becomes easy, you can add a soup or vegetable can, or a hand weight if you have one.

Now you will do a shoulder external rotation. Try to keep your elbows by your side through out the exercise. If you want to roll up a small towel and place it between your side and your elbow for each side, this will keep your arms close to your side through out the exercise. Keep your elbows at about a 90 degree angle and your thumbs up towards the ceiling. Also try to keep your wrists in a neutral position. You don’t want to over stress your wrists, and then have a wrist injury. Slowly pull both arms out away from each other keeping your elbows at your side, and then slowly come back in. Start off with 10 of these, and then work your way up to 20-25. If that becomes easy, then move up with resistive bands.

The next exercise is going to be rows or scapular retraction. You can use your feet as an anchor. You want to keep your elbows in close to your body and make a rowing motion. Try to squeeze your shoulder blades together when you pull back. Make sure you are using a slow controlled motion.

Finally you are going to do punches or scapular protraction. Wrap the band around you, and keep your arms straight in front of you. Punch forward, but try not to bend your elbows.

Related Videos:

Rotator Cuff Exercises & Stretches with Resistive Bands

Rotator Cuff Exercises Shoulder Injury Rehab


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