Rotator cuff rehabilitation is an intensive process intended to gradually and securely restore the cuff to peak fitness. If completed conscientiously, rehabilitation not only restores function, but can in fact improve it.
The shoulder very often emerges from the process healthier and stronger. Why is this? The majority of cuff tears occurs originally due to a lack of muscle strength. Rehabilitation is a program of progressively increasing strength and range of motion.
This is frequently the first devoted attention the cuff receives. Be honest now, can you really say you give (or gave) your cuff muscles any serious attention?
What can you expect from a program of rotator cuff physical therapy? All physical therapy rotator cuff routines will vary slightly. This will depend upon your Physical Therapist and your specific injury. Allowed for those small differences; the majority will follow the same basic pattern.
Start slowly and build it up
Remember, at all times, if you have too much pain STOP. Use ice after exercise regularly. Initially all you aim to attain is gradually escalating range of motion. This will reduce any potential for scarring and stiffness.
There is a natural progression
- Passive or assisted motion exercises
- Active or unassisted motion exercises.
- Resistance motion exercises by doing rotator cuff exercises with elastic.
- Rotator cuff weight exercises – start with low weights and progress.
Passive motion-The muscles do no work – you or someone else moves the arm
Active motion – Utilize your own muscles to move the arm unaided. No resistance should be applied
Exercises with elastic – Only once once minimal pain and a reasonable range of motion has been achieved.
Exercises with weights – Finally move on to the use of weights. A major part of the rehabilitation process is the use of weights. Do not over do it, these muscles are small, so use light weights 5lb maximum
Isolate each individual muscle
There are four cuff muscles so you need a range of exercises.These most basic rotator cuff rehabilitation exercises illustrate the difference between each muscle. Each exercise can be performed during the passive, active, resistance and weight stages.
The subscapularis – Internally rotates the arm. Hold your arm in front of the body, with the arm flexed to 90 degrees, move the hand to touch the belt. The exercise can be performed while lying on your back with the elbow close to your side and flexed ninety degrees.
The supraspinatus – Abducts of the arm. Hold the arm straight in front of the body, with the thumbs pointing towards the floor. Slowly elevate the arm to above the head. Stop if painful the rotator cuff is subject to maximum stress in this exercise.
The infraspinatus and teres minor – Externally rotate the arm. Hold you elbow in at your side with your hand out in front of you. Then move the arm out to the side. This exercise can be performed while lying on your side.
Above all be patient, rehab is not a quick fix. It is an excellent, long term solution. Rotator cuff rehabilitation , done correctly will unduly restore function and improve quality of life.