What are Rotator cuff exercises?
Shoulder workouts, especially rotator cuff exercises, are essential in order to improve and maintain shoulder health, stability and avoid shoulder injuries. Rotator cuff exercises aim at a group of four muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. These four muscles are listed below.
- Teres minor
These muscles along with their tendons are collectively called rotator cuff. The major aim of these shoulder workouts is to enhance the function of rotator cuff by strengthening it to next levels.
Rotator cuff exercises are considered pretty effective among the fitness veterans and trainers. These exercises are well known for enhancement of shoulder joint stability which, in turn, reduces the risk of shoulder injuries including shoulder dislocation. For persons having shoulder pain issues, specific exercises are also advised for shoulder pain relief.
Read our blog titled 5 Best Exercises for Knee Pain Relief: Strengthen and Protect Your Joints
Rotator cuff exercises are also effective in preventing other common shoulder injuries such as impingements, tendinitis and, rotator cuff tears. The improved and strengthened rotator cuff muscles enable you to perform various shoulder movements more conveniently and efficiently, especially in sports. Thus, it can be said that rotator cuff exercises play vital role in improving the shoulder functionality.
For detailed shoulder workouts read our blog titled Shoulder Workouts: 3 Best Shoulder Workout Routines
Types of Rotator Cuff Exercises
Rotator cuff exercises are usually divided into 4 major types including
- external rotation exercises,
- internal rotation exercises,
- isometric exercises and
- scapular retraction & depression rotator cuff exercises
External & Internal Rotator Cuff Exercises
Two muscles targeted by external rotation exercises are teres minor and infra-spinatus while internal rotation rotator cuff exercises target subscapularis muscles. Both types can be performed using resistance bands, cable machines or dumbbells in order to achieve better results. Therefore, these are called resistance band internal and external rotations when performed using resistance band and, dumbbell internal and external rotations when performed using dumbbells.
Remember to use resistance as well as weights, in case of using resistance bands and dumbbells respectively, keeping in view your fitness level, goals and training level. It is advised to gradually increase the resistance as well as weights in order to ret best results and avoid injuries while performing these shoulder exercises. For more detailed shoulder exercises, you may like to read our blog titled 35 Essential Shoulder Exercises: Master the Shoulder Workouts
Isometric Rotator Cuff Exercises
Isometric rotator cuff exercises aim at targeting the muscles without shoulder joint movements. Therefore, they are effective in developing shoulder strength without straining the shoulder joint.
Scapular Retraction & Depression Exercises
In order to improve stability in shoulder muscles as well joint, scapular retraction and depression exercises help in stabilizing the scapula, which in turn plays vital role in proper shoulder function. Examples of these exercises are:
- Scapular Squeezes (Retraction)
- Push-Ups Plus (Depression)
Rotator Cuff Exercises: Related Injuries
It is crucial that rotator cuff exercises are performed accurately by maintaining the proper body and muscle forms. Not performing these exercises properly often results in following injuries.
- Muscle strain often results when you use extra weights and perform improperly.
- Carefully choose the weights or dumbbells as per your fitness level and your goals because excessive weight and poor form while performing rotator cuff exercises may cause rotator cuff tears, or may worsen the already existing situation.
- Tendon inflammation or tendinitis may also result if you perform these exercises incorrectly.
- If the exercise technique is wrong or poor, the tendons attached with rotator cuff muscles often become pinched and lead to a syndrome known as Impingement.
If you are into incorporating shoulder workouts into your daily workout routine or you are interested in developing and enhancing shoulder function and stability, especially the rotator cuff muscles, you must use proper technique in order to get the results desired and, in order to avoid injuries discussed above.