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Top Physical Therapy Exercises for a Torn Rotator Cuff

Dealing with a torn rotator cuff? No matter how you got this injury, it can be extremely painful and slow to heal. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that support and stabilize the shoulder and enable proper movement. Tears are common—even if you’re not an athlete—and can be caused by trauma, shoulder impingement, and tissue degeneration. Physical therapy is crucial for regaining your shoulder strength and complete range of motion. Here are some of the top exercises and stretches you may encounter on your journey to full recovery.

Over-the-Head Stretch

This simple exercise uses both arms so that your good shoulder can support the injured one. You’ll notice this stretch improves your overhead reach, allowing you to grab overhead with less pain. All you need is a light cane or rod to grasp during the exercise—here’s how to do it:

As you lie flat on your bed or on the floor, keep your arms at your sides while holding the cane with both hands at hip level.

Bring the cane up in an arc-like path while keeping your arms straight.

Continue in this motion until the cane goes over your face. If capable, bring the cane down above your head.

Return to your initial position and repeat the motion five times.

Up-the-Back Stretch

Like the Over-the-Head Stretch, this exercise uses both arms and a light cane or rod. It improves flexibility, allowing you to reach behind you with less pain. As you move forward in your physical therapy program, you’ll notice this stretch makes it easier for you to put on clothes or even scrub your back while bathing.

In a standing position with arms at your side, hold the cane against your lower back.

Slide the cane up your back slowly, bending your elbows as you go. Go as high as you can without discomfort.

Return to your initial position and repeat the motion five times.

Standing Shoulder Row

As your range of motion improves, you can start strengthening your shoulder joint to prevent injury in the future. Your physical therapist may suggest you try a Standing Shoulder Row, helping you create a solid base for your rotator cuff. All it takes is one rubber band to do this exercise. Follow these steps:

Find a sturdy spot like a door and attach the band. Hold the band with both hands while standing, then move back until there’s slight tension in the band and your elbows are straight.

Slowly pull back on the band while pinching your shoulder blades. As you pull, bend your elbows, but make sure your arms are close to your body. You should be able to get your elbows to a 90-degree bend. Always keep your arms parallel to the floor.

Return to your initial position and repeat the motion five times.

Start Your Journey to Rotator Cuff Recovery Today

You need a healthy rotator cuff to move your shoulder without pain or discomfort. If you’re suffering from a rotator cuff injury, a comprehensive physical therapy program can help restore your shoulder to normal function. The team at Impact Medical Lutz can create a custom plan that addresses your needs and concerns. Call us at (813) 522-8885 and take the first step toward your recovery today!