Rotator Cuff Exercises and Muscles

By Genesis Villanueva, PT

Rotator Cuff Exercises and Muscles

Read this article to learn about the rotator cuff and rotator cuff exercises.

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that stabilize the shoulder and allow it to move. The rotator cuff muscles include the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis. In addition, the two most common types of rotator cuff injuries are impingements and tears. A shoulder impingement occurs when the soft tissues of the rotator cuff become swollen and inflamed. A rotator cuff tear occurs when a rotator cuff muscle or tendon actually tears. The best way to prevent rotator cuff problems is to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder and shoulder blade. A comprehensive evaluation by a trained physical therapist is beneficial in evaluating the shoulder for muscle imbalances, decreased range of motion, decreased strength and postural issues. Development of a patient-specific home exercise program for stretching and strengthening is the treatment of choice.

Shoulder anatomy

Rotator Cuff Muscles

Exercises for the Rotator Cuff

Rotator cuff strengthening exercises include the following:

Internal Rotation

  • Lie on a firm, flat surface on the side of your affected arm. Place a pillow or folded piece of cloth under your head to keep your spine straight.
  • Hold your injured arm against your side with your elbow bent at a 90 degree angle.
  • Keep your elbow bent and against your body and slowly rotate your arm at the shoulder, raising the arm with or without weight to a vertical position .
  • Slowly lower the arm to the starting position.
Internal rotation

Internal Rotation with bands

External Rotation

  • Lie on your side on a firm, flat surface with your unaffected arm under you, cradling your head.
  • Hold your injured arm against your side with your elbow bent at 90 degree angle.
  • Keep your elbow against your side and slowly rotate your arm at the shoulder raising your arm with or without weight to a vertical position.
  • Slowly lower the arm to the starting position to a count of 5.
    External Rotation

    External Rotation with bands

If you have recent had a shoulder surgery watch our video on How to Properly Wear a UltraSling 4.

Also, want to learn more about rotator cuff exercises? Please read this Rotator Cuff Exercises

Book an Appointment with The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Today!

JOI Physicians continue to offer online new patient appointments. This is another option to make it more convenient to make new patient appointments with less phone hold times. Follow the link below to select your JOI MD and schedule online.

You can still call 904-JOI-2000 to make new patient JOI Physician Appointments if that is your preference.

New To JOI: You now can make and cancel follow-up appointments for your JOI Physician through the JOI Portal.

To make appointments with JOI Rehab, please call 904-858-7045.

Bold City Best CTA JOI Rehab

Bold City Best


Skip to content