How to Strengthen Your Rotator Cuffs


  1. 1 Start with a pendulum stretch. Stand next to a table or counter, lean forward, and put one of your hands on the surface to support your body. Relax the other arm and let it hang down freely and straight. Move the whole arm is a small circle slowly. The hand only needs to be making a circle that is about 12 inches (30 cm) wide. The top of the arm will just be rotating slightly in the shoulder.[1]
    • Once you have done a minute or 2 or circles, reverse the direction you are moving and do them for another minute or 2.
    • It should only take a few minutes to stretch these muscles out, so take the time to do it and don’t skip it so save a few minutes.[3]

    Tip: Stretching out your rotator cuff muscles before strength training is especially important if you have had a rotator cuff injury in the past. It will help prevent you from getting injured again.

  2. 2 Do a cross-body shoulder stretch. Relax your shoulders and then lift up 1 of your arms up and stretch it across your body. It should be positioned so that it is going straight across your chest. Then lift up the other arm and hold the arm you are stretching at the upper arm, pressing it gently into your chest to increase the stretch. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds and then relax both arms.[4]
    • Wait 30 seconds and then stretch the other arm in the same manner.
    • Repeat this 4 to 5 times on each arm.
  3. 3 Stretch your rotator cuffs with passive internal rotations. Grab a yardstick, cane, towel, or umbrella, basically anything that is about 12 inches (30 cm) wider than your body, so you can use it to assist in your stretching. Hold the end of your item with one hand, put the length of it behind your body, and grab the other end with your other hand. Stretch your arms out straight so that you are holding the item horizontally. Pull 1 of your hands out away from your body, so that the other arm is pulled right behind the body. Pull until you feel a stretch in the shoulder.[5]
    • Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds and then relax your arms for 30 seconds.
    • Repeat this stretch on the opposite side.
    • Do this stretch about 4 times on each side.
  4. 4 Perform a prone shoulder extension to improve your joint function. Lie on your stomach on an exercise mat with your arms at your side. Face your palms toward the ceiling. Gently lift your right arm about 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) off of the exercise mat. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then release. Repeat on your left side.[6]
    • Do 2-3 repetitions on each side.
    • Lift your arm only as high as you comfortably can. Stop if you feel any discomfort.
  1. 1 Perform a supine shoulder flexion exercise to gently work your muscles. Lie on your back with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Place your arms at your sides with your palms facing up. Hold a ball or small hand weight in your right hand. Hinge your shoulder forward until your arm is perpendicular to your body, lifting the ball or weight toward the ceiling. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, then release and switch to the left side.[7]
    • Do 2 sets of 10 to 15 lifts on each side.
    • Only lift your arm as high as you comfortably can. Stop if you feel any discomfort.
  2. 2 Do rotations with weights. Hold a weight in your hand and bend your elbow to 90 degrees. Tuck…
Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

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Sasha Harriet

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