Best Rotator Cuff Strengthening Exercises | Beginner

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What is the rotator cuff?

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that surround the shoulder joint.  The primary role of these four muscles is to keep the head of our upper arm bone stable and centered in a shallow socket that connects to our shoulder blade. When these muscles become injured or weak, the upper arm bone tends to move around more on the shallow socket.  This can be especially troublesome with overhead movements which may result in the upper arm bone migrating upwards on the socket which can impinge several key structures in the shoulder.
Image via Virtual Sports Injury Clinic

Rotator cuff early rehabilitation

Early rehabilitation of these muscles includes basic strengthening of the rotator cuff muscles in a position that allows for these muscles to be isolated without bigger muscles like the deltoid and upper trap taking over.  Below are three exercises studies show allows for best activation of rotator cuff and scapula stabilizers while minimizing deltoid and upper trap activity.  

1. Sidelying External Rotation

2. Prone external rotation

3. Standing Full Can 

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Schory, A., Bidinger, E., Wolf, J., & Murray, L. (2016). A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW OF THE EXERCISES THAT PRODUCE OPTIMAL MUSCLE RATIOS OF THE SCAPULAR STABILIZERS IN NORMAL SHOULDERS. International journal of sports physical therapy, 11(3), 321-36.

Alizadehkhaiyat, O., Hawkes, D. H., Kemp, G. J., & Frostick, S. P. (2015). Electromyographic Analysis of the Shoulder Girdle Musculature During External Rotation Exercises. Orthopaedic journal of sports medicine, 3(11), 2325967115613988. doi:10.1177/2325967115613988

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