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Rotator Cuff

Posted by Dorothy on 1/18/05 at 13:55 (167477)

I said I would post some rotator cuff exercises that help in our house and they will follow below. I delayed posting this because I wanted to find the book that we used years ago so that I could give you a reference. The book is: Peak Condition by James G. Garrick, M.D. and Peter Radetsky - Winning Strategies to Prevent, Treat, and Rehabilitate Sports Injuries (Crown Publishers, Inc., New York; copyright 1986). These exercises come from that book and Dr. Garrick cites his own source for the exercises and I include his credit below.

These exercises have helped us many times and I hope they will help you:

Four Exercises:

1. Bend over at the waist and just let the arm on your injued side hang in front of you. Then start swinging it in a clockwise motion. Not too hard or too fast - it's not like stirring a vat of molasses. Use just enough muscle to kick your arm into motion and keep it swinging lazily. At first you may be able to bend over only a little way. That's okay. Continue to circle clockwise, then counterclockwise, bending over farther and farther as you go, until your torso is at a right angle, parallel to the ground. The key here is, don't do anything that hurts. If it hurts to bend too far, don't bend too far. If it hurts to circumscribe a circle, don't. You may have to make an ellipse, or an egg shape, or some other figure that feels all right. then gradually work toward a complete circle, both clockwise and counterclockwise.
2. Stand up straight. Pretend that you're on one end of a double-handled saw and start sawing. Back and forth, in and out, way out and way back. As with all these exercises, the more repetitions you do, the more your range of motion will increase. You're stretching at the same time as you're strengthening. (And the exercise also puts your elbow through a complete range of motion.)
3. Let your arm fall straight down to your side. Then raise your arm up at a right angle to your body and let it back down, up and down, as though you're slowly flapping an injured wing. These are called abductor swings. Raise your arm to a comfortable level only. Even if you can bring your arm up only a foot or two from your side to start with, keep at it. As you continuje, you'll become more flexible. And if it hurts too much ti swing your arm up at all, start out by bending your elbow to form a chicken wing. Then flap it up as far as is comfortable. After you develop flexibility that way, gradually straighten out.
4. Last, but not least, shrug your shoulders. That's all, just shrug your shoulders. After doing so much sawing and circling and flapping, you may feel like shrugging your shoulders anyway. If you want to get fancy about it, you may want to roll your shoulders up and forward, then down, or up and back, then down, again making clockwise and counterclockwise circles.

If you're having a fair amount of shoulder trouble, start out by doing the exercises ten times each, twice a day - in the morning and evening, say. And increase as you grow stronger and more flexible. What you're shooting toward is fifty of each exercise, three times a day. That's 750 reps. When you start doing that many, these deceivingly easy exercises turn into quite a workout. A week to ten days of these exercises is probably enough..... (To give credit where credit is due, the exercises were developed by Robert Kerlan, a Los Angeles orthopedic surgeon who for years has taken care of more baseball players than anybody else has. He uses the exercises as part of a rehabilitation program for pitchers....)

The above material is taken from the book Peak Condition by James G. Garrick, M.D. pp.199-203.

Re: Rotator Cuff

Julie on 1/18/05 at 14:53 (167483)

Dorothy, thank you for these great instructions. I was given the first one by my osteopath, and do it with a 1kg weight: it's very helpful. At first, when my shoulder was givng me more trouble than it does now, I did the arm raising one: I don't now, as that movement gives me no bother and I can bring my arm all the way up. I like the sound of the double-saw one and will try it: in fact, I have tried it, and it feels good.

Here's one for you, which I've found effective. Roll up a large face towel, or small bath towel. Put it in your armpit and with your arm habing loose at your side, squeeze tightly on the towel for a count of ten. Then release for a count of five. Repeat several times a day, starting with ten reps, gradually increasing reps.

Re: Rotator Cuff

Kathy G on 1/19/05 at 10:33 (167530)

That one is in my book on stretching, Julie, and I'd forgotten it. It works well. That is such a great book. I have to go check the title so I can suggest it to anyone interested in stretching exercises. My husband bought it years ago but I know you said you have it and during the brief, horrible time I went for PT for my feet, I noticed the PT had a copy of it on her desk.

Here it is: 'Stretching' by Bob Anderson. Ah, to think I couldn't remember the title without checking. I did remember the author but that complicated title had me stymied. The old mind ain't what it used to be!