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First let’s start with how to pronounce this…it is NOT “Rotator CUP” it is actually called the “Rotator CUFF.” The Rotator cuff is not just ONE muscle, in fact it is several. These muscles are often referred to as “SITS” which are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis.
Damage to the rotator cuff can be caused by a variety of factors including traumatic injury such as a car accident or a fall; overuse and strain such as pitching, weight lifting or other repetitious activities; and degeneration (just plain getting old!)
It’s easy to concentrate on our major muscle groups when strength training, and forget about those smaller, very important, muscles surrounding and supporting our joints.
Here you will find some basic exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles.
1.) Internal Rotation
Internal rotation indicates the direction of the joint coming “inward” toward the midline. Internal rotation can be performed in several different positions, for the sake of simplicity, here is one:
Standing perpendicular to a piece of resistance band, keeping the elbow pulled to the side (placing a rolled towel between your elbow and side can help maintain the proper position) pull the band inward toward the belly button, and slowly return to the starting position.
Perform 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps to increase strength and endurance of the muscles.
2.) External Rotation
If you go one direction, you’ll want to proceed to the opposite direction as well. A muscle imbalance can also cause any number of other problems, so what you do to one side, be sure to do to the other.
After performing internal rotation, simply turn your body the other direction and pull the band away from your body. Again, you’ll want to hold a small towel between the elbow and your side to maintain the appropriate position.
Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15reps.
There is a couple ways to do this, the best way, in my opinion, is with the thumbs facing upward. This way we avoid pain in the shoulder that may be caused from an impingement.
Begin with hands at your sides, elbow extended. Raise arm forward at a 45 degree angle from the body/midline, continue to raise just in a pain free range and return slowly to the starting position. Resistance, such as dumbbells can be used as well.
Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps to build strength and endurance.
4.) Shoulder Extension
Standing, begin with one or both arms out in front holding a resisted band, pull resisted band back past the hips, and slowly return forward.
You’ll want to keep both elbows straight for this, shoulders down, away from the ears avoiding shrugging the shoulders.
More with Core
Another thing to keep in mind while exercising, is to maintain a gently contracted core. Slightly tighten the abdominals to assist in controlling the exercise and protect the lower back. Most exercises (especially when standing) require some degree of core use; so concentrate on keeping that tummy “tight” as well; this will help to perform exercises correctly too by maintaining a proper and neutral position.
Every exercise can be performed without resistance, however, for muscle to build and become stronger it does need some sort of resistance to help increase muscle mass. Resistance, such as bands or dumbbells can be found right on Amazon, or even your local athletic or grocery stores in the sports section!
These bands found on Amazon are actually nice because they have a door attachment which is great when performing shoulder exercises. If using bands, such as these, be sure to always check for rips and tears as they do break and wear down over time, and could cause injury if they were to break during use.
**It is important to avoid painful exercise and consult a physician with any concerns.
If you found this information helpful or useful, and know someone else that would too, please share!
Be Good, Feel Good, Look Good!