Rotator Cuff Strengthening Exercises

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You may not realize it, but keeping your shoulders strong is a major shoulder workoutline of defense in avoiding sports-related injuries. If you’re unsure about just how you can keep your shoulders strong, keep reading to explore 5 easy strengthening exercises that benefit the rotator cuff.

You’ll need an elastic band of comfortable resistance. For exercises #1 through 5 below, tie one end of the resistance band tightly to the knob of a closed door. It is recommended to repeat each exercise 20 times, or until muscles are fatigued on both sides. Make sure there is enough tension placed on the resistance band, and focus on keeping the band tight and controlled throughout the exercise. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about which exercises are safe and effective for you. In general, other than a brief fatiguing ache, strengthening exercises should not cause persisting discomfort.


  1. External Rotation: For this exercise, stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart. Keep your elbow at the level of your waist, your forearm parallel to the floor  and hold your wrist straight.  Stand perpendicular to the door and hold the other end of the band with the hand furthest from the door. If you start with your left arm, the door should be on your right side. Keeping your elbow along your side, slowly rotate your arm outward and slowly return to the start position and repeat .
  2. Internal Rotation: This exercise uses the same motions as exercise #1. If you start with your left arm, the door should be on your left side. Keeping your elbow along your side, slowly rotate your arm inward towards your belly button. Then, slowly rotate outward to the start position and repeat.
  3. Lateral External Rotation: Start with your left arm and face the door.  Hold your elbow away from the side of your body to near shoulder level, with your elbow bent to 90 degrees and your forearm parallel to the ground. Pull the band slowly while rotating the shoulder until your forearm points upward as far as you can, then release the band slowly until your forearm is parallel to the floor and repeat.
  4. Lateral Internal rotation: This exercise uses the same motions as exercise #3. Using your left arm with your back towards the door, begin with your forearm pointing upward. Hold the resistance band in your left hand. Pull the band slowly while rotating the shoulder until your forearm is parallel to the floor, then release the band slowly until your forearm is pointing upward and repeat.
  5. Rotational Diagonal Raise: Secure one end of the resistance band to your opposite foot of the arm you are working on first (e.g., for the left arm tie the band to the right foot). With your left hand at the level of your right hip pull the band upward to fully extend your arm slowly up over your head, creating a diagonal with the resistance band across the front of your body. Then, release the band slowly downward until your left hand  rests at the level of your right hip and repeat.

Shoulder Injury Treatment in New York

For more information on strengthening shoulders or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Mendoza today. Our offices are located in Manhattan, and we can be reached at 212.628.9600. We hope to hear from you soon!

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