Rotator cuff injuries are fairly common for millions of Americans each year. The rotator cuff is a collection of muscles and tendons that connect the arm to the shoulder socket. It is responsible for carrying out a number of basic arm movements. From driving a car to eating dinner to opening a door, the rotator cuff allows your arm to move up and down as well as rotate. In addition, it stabilizes your shoulder during repetitive movements.
Rotator cuff injuries can include tears, sprains, and strains that occur from repetitive motion or excessive force. As part of the rehabilitation process, gentle exercises can help your shoulder regain its strength and mobility. However, it is important to be careful about the types of exercises you perform. Certain exercises can worsen your injury by imposing the same types of stresses on the rotator cuff that caused the problem in the first place.
Don’t do these 5 exercises if you have a rotator cuff injury
While you should always confirm whether any physical activity is safe with a qualified professional such as a physical therapist, here are five exercises in particular you should stay away from if you have a rotator cuff injury:
- Lifting heavy weights above your head — From Olympic lifts to overhead presses to pulldowns, the combination of weight with this specific movement can worsen your shoulder pain. If you have a rotator cuff injury, you should avoid lifting heavy weights altogether to allow your muscles and tendons to heal properly.
- Tricep dips — Also known as bench dips, these exercises involve putting most of your body weight on your shoulder and can actually impinge the rotator cuff. Shoulder impingement occurs when the head of your humerus bone compresses your rotator cuff tendons. You should avoid placing your body weight on your shoulder, especially since doing so can further inflame your injury.
- Any exercise or sport that involves throwing — Baseball, football, basketball and any other throwing-related sport should be avoided with a rotator cuff injury. This is because intense throwing motions can pull on your already unstable rotator cuff, possibly leading to a harsh tear or rupture.
- Swimming — If you are a competitive swimmer, it can be important to pause intense training sessions. The constant shoulder rotation from swimming can put undue strain on the rotator cuff. This added strain can lead to increased pain and inflammation. It can even lead to a worsening of your rotator cuff injury. Both of these issues can also potentially lead to a longer recovery time.
- Pulling or pushing heavy objects — Your job may require you to push or pull heavy objects on a daily basis. However, if you have a rotator cuff injury, it is important to rest from these kinds of movements, as they can further strain your rotator cuff. If you have a rotator cuff injury, it is also common to overrely on other joints, making it more likely that you strain them. For example, you may overstretch your back while protecting your injured shoulder during activity.
By working with your physical therapist, you can develop a specialized treatment plan, including therapeutic exercises, to help overcome your rotator cuff injury. Your physical therapist can show you safe positions and techniques so that you can encourage your rotator cuff to heal while avoiding injuring it further.
When should you go to physical therapy for your rotator cuff injury?
If your rotator cuff injury doesn’t get better in a few days, you may want to consider professional medical help. Physical therapists are one type of medical professional who can help you treat serious shoulder pain. Your physical therapist can help pinpoint the cause of your rotator cuff injury and help improve your mobility, especially if your rotator cuff injury appears in conjunction with the following conditions:
- Frozen shoulder syndrome.
- Scar tissue buildup.
- Pinched nerves.
Reach out to Arrow PTR for rotator cuff injury treatment
Ready to get expert help with your rotator cuff injury? At Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation, we’re here for you. Our team of licensed and experienced physical therapists can help you get back to a healthy and active lifestyle while offering long-term relief and decreased risk of reinjury.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help treat your injured rotator cuff or to schedule your initial appointment.