Millions of Americans experience rotator cuff tears as a result of their job, sports, or an accident. It is one of the most common injuries, and the healing process can be quite long because the shoulder is needed for so many everyday movements, meaning it’s easy to reaggravate the muscles if you aren’t careful. Thankfully, if you’re currently dealing with this issue, you don’t have to just sit at home idly waiting for your next doctor appointment or pill. Here are 3 quick and easy exercises you can use to ease the pain and stiffness associated with a rotator cuff tear.
Before doing any exercises, it’s important that your arm is no longer painful to move, and the swelling should have gone down. If you’re still experiencing these symptoms, the best thing you can do is rest and apply ice. Trying to move too quickly could potentially make the injury worse.
The doorway stretch involves placing your hands on the left and right side of a doorframe and gently leaning forward until you feel it in your shoulders. Place one foot in front of the other, and as you shift forward, your weight should be primarily supported by your feet. Count to 10 for each stretch and repeat 3-5 times as you’re comfortable. Or, you can do just one rep throughout the day as you walk through doors at home.
If you’re dealing with a rotator cuff tear, one of the best investments you can make is a set of resistance bands. These will allow you to stretch and strengthen your shoulder muscles without putting them under too much stress. Plus, they are easy to travel with, allowing you to stretch pretty much anywhere.
For the lawnmower stretch, place one end of the band under the foot that is opposite of your injured arm. With the end you’re holding, slowly and smoothly stretch it upward while gently rotating your hips toward your injured arm to make the motion easier. The key here is to make sure the stretch is one fluid motion and isn’t jerky or fast. Do this 10 times for 3 sets.
Crossover Arm Stretch
Stretch your injured arm across your chest and use your opposite hand to brace the elbow so it stays in place. Your outstretched arm should be right below your chin. Hold this for about 10-20 seconds before resting and repeating. If you feel any pain or pinching, stop immediately.
When Stretches Aren’t Enough
If you experience a rotator cuff tear, allowing the shoulder to rest and then using these stretches might be all you need to heal from a minor injury. But, if you find yourself dealing with pain, a loss of strength, or restricted movement for weeks or more, it’s important to seek out professional help. Getting the problem diagnosed and treated quickly will prevent it from becoming much worse and may also help you avoid surgery. Plus, your orthopedic doctor can let you know which stretches will be most effective for your particular situation. Between their care and taking the right steps at home, you should feel like normal in no time.
About the Author
Dr. Paul Tortland is board-certified in both sports and regenerative medicine, and he has helped thousands of people recover from rotator cuff tears without relying on medication or surgery. Using techniques such as PRP therapy, stem cell therapy, prolotherapy, and more, he can enable the shoulder to fully heal itself so that a patient recovers quickly and feels like their injury never happened in the first place. If you’re currently dealing with a rotator cuff tear, you can contact Dr. Tortland to schedule an in-person consultation and learn more about your options by clicking here.