The Cooper Institute
 

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH

Loading
 
 

Strengthening & Stretching the Shoulder

Written by
Michael Harper, MEd
Posted in
Fit Tips

Sunday, Oct 18, 2015

Many shoulder injuries are due to strength imbalances involving the rotator cuff muscles. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles and their tendons that connect the upper arm to the shoulder blade. Wrapping around the front, back, and top of the shoulder, their primary role is to support movement by stabilizing the shoulder joint. While these muscles are not very large in comparison to many of the other muscles in the same area, their role in supporting movement is extremely important and adequate levels of strength and endurance are needed.

Performing traditional shoulder exercises alone may not be enough to train these muscles and often can make common imbalances worse. Adding a few isolated strengthening and stretching exercises for the often neglected rotator cuff, like those in Corrective Exercise Training and this video, may be the key to preventing injury for many individuals.

To perform:

Dumbbell Single Arm V Raises on Bench

  • Preparation: Lay prone on a bench with the torso supported and legs extended straight back. Holding a dumbbell in one hand with the thumb pointing up, extend the arm down toward the floor with a soft extension at the elbow and out to about a 45-degree angle away from the body. The other arm can hang naturally off of the bench.
  • Movement: Standing upright, step to the right side of the body into a lateral lunge, bending the right knee while keeping the torso facing forward and the left leg extended. Maintaining the lateral lunge position, bring the right elbow toward the right knee, keeping the back straight. Bring the right foot back to the start position beside the left foot and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Tips: Begin with light resistance. Do not allow the spine to arch during the exercise. Do not lift the head or shrug the shoulders during the raise. Keep the wrist neutral throughout the exercise. The free hand can lightly touch the floor to provide stability however, not touching the floor can add a level of difficulty to the exercise.

Side Lying Shoulder External Rotation

  • Preparation: Lay on the ground on one side of body with the head supported by the arm closest to the ground. With the other arm, grasp a dumbbell and position the upper arm next to the side of the body and the forearm across the torso with the palm facing in forming a 90-degree angle at the elbow.
  • Movement: Keeping the upper arm next to the side, externally rotate the shoulder, raising the forearm off of the torso. Raise the forearm arm until perpendicular to the floor, or as much as you can without breaking form. Slowly return to the start position.
  • Tips: Select light resistance and progress gradually. A towel may be placed under the elbow to maintain proper joint alignment. Do not allow the elbow to slip downward or forward or come away from the body. Initiate the movement from the shoulder and not the torso. The hips should remain neutral and not move backward.

Cross Arm Adduction Stretch

  • Preparation: Lay on the ground on one side of body with the legs stacked on top of one another and the hips and knees bent for stability. Place the bottom arm across the chest and grasp the upper arm right above of the elbow with the hand of the opposite arm.
  • Movement: Roll the torso back slightly until your weight is distributed onto the scapula. Once in position, slowly pull the arm across the body at the level of the chest until a stretch is felt in the posterior shoulder. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Tips: Only stretch to a point of mild tension. Work up to performing several repetitions with a goal of accumulating a total of 60 seconds. Do not pull directly on the elbow.

Internal Rotation Sleeper Stretch

  • Preparation: Lay on the ground on one side of body with the legs stacked on top of one another and the hips and knees bent for stability. Position the bottom arm so that the upper arm is perpendicular to the body. Position the lower arm so that it is pointing straight up, forming a 90-degree bend in the elbow. The palm will be facing the legs.
  • Movement: Place the opposite hand on the wrist of the arm that is pointed up, and in a slow and controlled manner apply pressure to internally rotate the shoulder so the fingers point downward toward the knees, the palm toward the ground. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Slowly return to the start position.
  • Tips: Only rotate the shoulder to a point of mild tension. Work up to performing several repetitions with a goal of accumulating a total of 60 seconds. The wrist should stay in neutral position.