Rotator Cuff – STOP Doing this!

Rotator Cuff is a smaller muscle group underneath the shoulder.  Includes:  Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres minor & Subscapularis muscle.  They are attached to the humerus.  When we move our upper body, it stabilises the shoulder, and protects the joints from dislocation.  If these 4 muscles too are weak, the shoulder become vulnerable.  So we should strengthen these muscles to prevent injuries.


Their main functions are Shoulder Internal Rotation & External Rotation.  Let’s review:

External Rotation


Internal Rotation


Internal Rotation often involves in our exercises, so we don’t need to train it so much.  On the other hand, less exercises involve External Rotation.  As a result, our External Rotation becomes weaker while Internal become stronger.


There are 2 muscles involve in External Rotation, we should do more related exercises.  The best tool are Resistance Band & Cable.  Use light weight.  Resistance Band will be used for demonstration purpose.


Rotator Cuff Exercises

#1 Band External Rotation

Slower tempo.  Choose a lighter band with little resistance.  With that, we can do 10+ reps.  Our elbow should stay close to our body. (Tuck in) Just use external rotation force.   Note that, for the weak Rotation Cuff muscle or low flexibility, range of motion could be limited.  Just do your best is good enough.  Don’t try to flare out the elbow for the sake of larger range of motion.


You may wonder for my demonstration:  There is gap between my elbow & body,  did my elbow tuck in?  Trust me, I am doing all that I could to tuck in.  Some people like me for the different body type.  Some can fully tuck in their elbow while some are just like me with a gap.  So, just try the best that you could to tuck in while still feeling comfortable.


#2 High Elbow External Rotation

Apart from this move, another version is that high Elbow External Rotation.  It trains your external rotation as well.  Both exercises should hold your elbow still.


#3 Face Pull with External Rotation

Another one is Face Pull.  To train your rotator cuff with Face Pull, light weight must be used.  And, you must add the external rotation part.  Meaning, when you are pulling your thumb should point out.  Pointing out & back.


Don’t forget, the force of rotator cuff is limited.  If you are using too heavy,  you will not be able to do the external rotation part.  As a result, it will become a solid Rear Deltoid/Mid Back exercise.  If you force it with heavy weight, injury may occur.  So, lighter weight like 10+ reps which you can manage should be used.


Common Mistakes

Besides, you may have seen some people use a dumbbell or other stuff to do a standing External Rotation for warm up.


I am not a fan of it.  If you have studied Physics before, you would know  The external force is not resisting the Gravity.  The weight of Dumbbell is basically Gravity pointing downward. (Vertical) while External Rotation is moving to side way.  (Horizontal)  Horizontal Force is perpendicular to Vertical Force, meaning they are not resisting each other, which makes the exercise ineffective.


Dumbbell for External Rotation

If we use Dumbbell for Rotation Cuff, there are several ways to do that:  First: Lying External Rotation just like the demonstration.  This one is resisting the gravity.


Another one is High Elbow External Rotation.  Both are resisting the gravity which make them effective.


External Rotation Training doesn’t take long.  It is a high reps, short rest time training.  Not too much volume required.  Probably 3-6 sets is okay.  Higher frequency is better, may be 2-3 times/week.  Or you can do it as long as you are available.  Like doing it everyday is also okay.  When your Rotator Cuff becomes stronger, the chance of injuries would be greatly reduced.

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