Rotator Cuff Strain Functional Exercises

Functional exercises should be used in the late stages of rehabilitation to prepare the athlete for normal training. We explain a number of simple functional shoulder rehab exercises for rotator cuff injuries.

The following guidelines regarding Rotator Cuff Injury functional exercises are for information purposes only. We recommend seeking professional advice before beginning rehabilitation.

They should be different from person to person, depending on what your job entails and what sports you play. Here is just an example of some common functional exercises.

Ball throwing

Many sports involve either throwing a ball (e.g. baseball, cricket) or using a racket (tennis, badminton, squash). Rehabilitation of a shoulder injury in players of any of these sports should include throwing drills. This allows you to start at a very low level and gradually build up the speed and force you to use until you are at full match level.

  • Start off by throwing a small, light ball (such as a tennis ball), underarm against a wall (or with a partner if you're lucky!)
  • Start very gently and increase the speed and force (and so distance) you throw with.
  • Start to use a heavier ball such as a netball
  • Go back to a tennis ball and start overhead throws.
  • Start gently, close to the wall and increase distance and force.
  • Use both hands together initially if you want.
  • Progress gradually (over several sessions) to a heavier ball, single-handed, at full power.

Medicine ball shoulder exercises

A number of exercises using medicine balls can be performed to increase the plyometric or dynamic strength of the shoulder joint.

Resistance band movements

Try using a resistance band to mimic the movements which are common in your job/sport. For example:

  • Tie one end of a resistance band to something sturdy
  • Hold the other in your hand
  • Swing your arm as if performing a tennis serve (or a forehand, backhand etc)
  • Start gently and gradually build up the intensity (over several sessions) until you are in full swing.
  • The same can be done for movements such as a golf swing, baseball pitch etc

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