Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rotator Cuff Exercises Exposed!

In a Friday link roundup awhile back, I posted a link to an article with some good tips for taking care of your rotator cuffs. So let me explain some of the exercises.

*External rotation (scarecrow)
Holding light weights in your hand, stand as if you're going to do a shoulder press, but stop when your upper arms are parallel with the ground. Leaving your elbow at a 90 degree angle, rotate at the shoulder until your forearms are also parallel with the ground, then lift back. Repeat.

Your rotator cuff is weak in this direction. Think of this as the opposite of throwing a ball. You can snap your arm forward with great speed. This exercise will help to provide some strength in the other direction.

*Lying external rotation
The shoulder is complicated, and I can't really tell you what specific muscles are benefited by doing this while laying on your side, but I've read it several places. Lay on your side with your upper arm running down your body, once again parallel with the floor, and maintaining the 90 degree angle in your elbow, lower the weight until your forearm is parallel with the ground as well. You can also do this standing, but with a cable machine, if you have access to a cable machine with a pulley that slides up and down a track. Place the pulley level to your elbow and perform the same motion.

*Cable laterals
Remember when I said that machines were good at some things that free weights aren't? One of those things is resistance throughout the range of motion. When doing dumbbell laterals, at the bottom of the movement there is no resistance to your delts. You can hold the dumbbells all day and your traps will get tired, and your hands, obviously, but not your delts. It's as you move them out and up, challenging gravity, that your delt will feel resistence.

That means if you've only been doing dumbbell laterals, there is a weak point in the bottom of your range. You can correct this by doing cable laterals. These will be tough, and the stack might not even allow for a low enough weight for you. If this is the case, take a light dumbbell and do laterals laying on your side. You only need to lift through about the first 20 degrees.

None of these exercises do you want to do low rep, and through no rep should you grunt and struggle as you might a squat or bench press. The fact that these target your rotator cuff means that pushing them too hard could easily cause injury.

Alright. I think I'm going to stop harping about the rotator cuff for awhile.

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