It is always recommended to start with a basic rotator cuff warm up before performing the more rigorous shoulder mobility exercises with weights. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at what rotator cuff is, what does it do, how to prevent injuries and 7 great rotator cuff warm up exercises.
What is a Rotator Cuff and What Does it Do?
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that strengthen the connection between the head of your upper arm bone (the humerus) and your shoulder blade (the scapula). It helps to stabilize the shoulder joint by keeping it in place.
Why Rotator Cuff Injuries Happen?
A very common injury is to your rotator cuff when you lift something heavy. The rotator cuff is stretched, pinched, or torn by the sudden, heavy force on it. People who do athletic activities that involve throwing or lifting experience more than twice the risk of a rotator cuff tear than those who don’t. Men are more likely to sustain a rotator cuff tear than women.
There are different types of rotator cuff tears, depending on where they occur. Some types of tears affect only one side of your upper arm bone while others affect both sides at once.
Lifting heavy objects, such as furniture, can cause a rotator cuff tear. Picking up a heavy object and carrying groceries are other activities that can lead to a torn rotator cuff. Other causes include:
– Direct trauma (such as crashing into an object with the shoulder) or repetitive stress (such as lifting and carrying) on the shoulder
– Damage from previous shoulder injuries (sprains and dislocations) that never healed completely
– Injury from arthritis of the shoulder joint or wrist joints may damage your rotator cuff.
What are the symptoms of rotator cuff injury?
Pain from a rotator cuff tear can either be acute or chronic. The pain is usually felt in the shoulder area. It is also common for the elbow to become sore as well. In addition to pain, you may feel a loss of strength and/or range of motion in your shoulder.
To prevent injuries in common muscle groups, check the article below:
7 Best Rotator Cuff Warm Up Exercises
Before you start your workout, take a few minutes to perform the seven exercises, which come in various levels of difficulty. You can also focus on one exercise at a time. It is suggested to perform these exercises 3 times in one set, with around 10-30 seconds rest between sets.
1) External Rotation
This rotates the arm across the body towards your front side while holding an object in your hand. This helps prevent shoulder impingement and provides mobility for the arm.
To do: Stand sideways to a wall and keep your feet together and your palms facing back and on the same level as the shoulders, as demonstrated in the video. With your elbows straight, press your forearms/elbows against the wall as far as you can. Move your elbows towards each other as you push against the wall. Squeeze the shoulder blades at the back as you do this exercise.
2) External Rotation with a Resistance Band
This can be done either seated or standing and is a great warm up exercise for the rotator cuff. It works the muscles of the rotator cuff and strengthens them as well as relieves tension from the shoulder.
To do: Sit on a bench and tie both ends of your resistance band separately to two table legs or any other stable objects with approximately 2 feet of space in between. Grab both ends of the band and keep your arms together and straight. Bend your elbows outwards to shoulder level, with your palms towards each other. Press your hands together, trying to bring them closer to each other, and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you do that.
3) Straight Arm Circles Warm Up
To do: Keep your arms straight and stretch them with both hands separately in towards your body with palms facing outward. Hold this position for 10 seconds before moving again.
4) Towel Pulls Warm Up
To do: Stand up straight, with your feet together, and keep your arms straight by your sides, palms facing down. Grab a towel or towel roll and hold it in front of you. Keeping your elbows close to the body, bring the towel to just above shoulder level behind you till you can pull it out towards your front side.
5) Cross Body Shoulder Swings
To do: Stand up straight, with your feet together and keeping your arms straight, stretch them out in front of you, palms facing down. Swing them back and forth across each other as you take a step forward with the right leg. Keep that leg straight as you swing, bend the left one towards the ground.
6) Front Arm Circles
Front arm circles are a great massage exercise for the rotator cuff muscle. To do: Keep your arms straight and palms facing up, stretch them out in front of you at shoulder level.
7) Overhead Band Rolls
To do: Stand upright with your feet together and palms facing down. Hold a resistance band at shoulder level with the elbows straight. Make circles with your hands; first clockwise and then anti-clockwise.
The rotator cuff is very important in the shoulder joint and is used constantly with most upper body exercises like bench presses and overhead presses. The rotator cuff muscles work in unison with the biceps muscle group to move the humerus with this repetitive movement.
The biceps muscle group also needs to be strong for the proper function of the rotator cuff, especially when you lift heavy weights and perform shoulder squeezes which cause a lot of stress on them.
Keep your rotator cuffs active and healthy. Always warm up before you exercise!
Before leg days, it’s important to warm up your glutes:
Thank you for reading.
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