Your Guide to Shoulder Health

March 31, 2017

 

Do you experience shoulder pain? You know that nagging feeling when comb your hair or when you put on your sweater. Well you’re not alone. Rotator cuff problems are quite common among adults.


The rotator cuff is one of the most important components of the shoulder. It is comprised of a group of muscles and tendons that hold the bones of the shoulder joint together. The rotator cuff muscles provide one with the ability to lift their arm and reach overhead. People who have had rotator cuff injuries can find it difficult to participate in sports, perform specific exercises, and even day-to-day activities.


There are 2 different causes for your rotator cuff pain. First is an acute injury, like a sudden powerful raising of the arm against resistance (lifting heavy), or an attempt to cushion a fall. The second is a chronic injury which sees the shoulder taking constant trauma from simple, everyday movements of the shoulder.

 

Some symptoms of a rotator cuff injury are:

  • Pain at rest and at night, especially if you’re lying on the affected shoulder

  • Pain when lifting and lowering your arm (putting on a sweater)

  • Weakness when lifting or rotating your arm

  • Crackling sensation when moving your shoulder in certain positions

If any of these seem familiar to you, and you’re looking for a way to alleviate some of this pain, try these exercises and stretches to help rehabilitate and strengthen the shoulders. Pick up an exercise band from your local fitness shop and start your way to healthier shoulders. 

 

The stretches 

 

Elbow slide on wall - perform 2 sets of 5-6

Begin by placing your back against a wall and placing your elbows and index fingers in contact with the wall. Raise both arms overhead keeping the elbows against the wall until you reach a point where your elbows must come off the wall, but you want to keep your fingers against the wall for the remainder of the raise. Slowly lower your arms back down to your sides and repeat the movement for a total of 5 to 6 reps. You may find that with each rep you are able to keep your fingers and elbows in contact with the wall further and further.

 

Lying arm sweeps - perform 2 sets of 5-6

Lay down with your chest on the floor.  Raise your chest and shoulders off the floor, squeezing your shoulder blades, keeping your head relaxed looking at the ground. Start with your hands behind your back, trying to touch your thumbs right at your lower back, and then slowly sweep your arms out wide until you touch your thumbs together again at the top overhead.  Slowly return to the starting position, and repeat for a total of 5 or 6 reps.

 

Sleeper stretch - perform 2 sets of 5-6

Lay on your side with your arm bent at 90 degrees, you can place your head on a pillow for comfort if needed. Use your other arm to push your affected arm down toward the ground.  Stop pressing down when you feel a stretch through the back of your affected shoulder.  Hold this position for 30 seconds, then slowly raise your hand back to the starting position, and repeat for a total of 5-6 rep.  Eventually you should be able to place your palm flat on the floor. 

 

Strengthening Exercises

 

Single arm row - perform 3 sets of 8-10

Stand holding the band with your elbow bent at your side. Keep your arm in close and slowly pull your elbow straight back until your hand reaches your rib cage, then slowly return to the starting position and repeat.  Be sure to hold your core tight.  Perform 8-10 reps per side.

 

External rotation 1 - perform 3 sets of 8-10

Stand holding the band with your elbow at 90 degrees and raised to shoulder height keeping your elbow and shoulder in line. Slowly raise your hand until it's in line with your head, then slowly return to the starting position.  Be sure to hold your core tight.  Perform 8-10 reps per side.

 

 

External rotation 2 - perform 3 sets of 8-10

Stand holding the band with your elbow bent at your side. Keep your elbow close to your side and slowly rotate your arm outward, then slowly return to the starting position and repeat.  Be sure to hold your core tight.  Perform 8-10 reps per side.

 

Internal rotation - perform 3 sets 8-10

Stand holding the band with your elbow bent and at your side.  Keep your elbow close to your side and slowly move your arm across your body, rotating your arm inward.  Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.  Be sure to hold your core tight.  Perform 8-10 reps per side.

 

Aim to complete these exercises twice per week for results, and stretch 3-4 times per week. I have lived with shoulder pain for a while now and know how frustrating it can be! Be patient and work consistently on these stretches and exercises, and in time your shoulders will thank you!

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