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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rotator Cuff Injury Exercises - Full Rehabilitation Program for a Quick Recovery

The shoulder is an incredibly complex joint that is vulnerable to a variety of injuries such as tears or dislocations, but it can be recovered quickly with a specific rehabilitation program. A program of rotator cuff injury exercises consists of rotational external and internal movements to be performed regularly to strengthen the cuff muscles and tendons following an injury.

A shoulder in good health normally provides great flexibility and range of movement, but a torn cuff following high repetitive motions, a dislocation or repeated exertions can have the sufferer go on for months with pain and anti inflammatory medication. While rest and anti inflammatories are standard remedies soon after an injury has occurred, they cannot be taken as long term treatments because inactivity and drug dependency can make the problem worse and increase recovery times.

Instead, a program of professionally designed rotator cuff injury exercises should be the core foundation for a rehabilitative program, cutting down natural resolving times and gradually eliminating pain and the need for drugs. By targeting the Suprasinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor and Subscapularis, all the 4 muscles and tendons making up the rotator cuff will be strengthened and put in a better position to heal than an inactive and drug dependent cuff.

The most common symptom of a shoulder injury is pain. Pain can be sudden and violent as in a trauma like a dislocation or large tear, or subtle and dull as in a small tear, growing worse with time with a characteristic feeling of weakness upon raising the arm. Following a tear and a period of rest on medication with the arm in a swing, the physical therapy program can be started.

Only the therapist can decide when the time is right and how to start implementing the program. For severe injuries, it is necessary to start with a passive phase in which the therapist performs the movements so as not to endanger the muscles and tendons. When the rotator cuff has sufficiently recovered, an active phase can be started without resistance. This means the injured person performs the rotational movements weight free, with his/her arm alone.

Later, the active phase will be stepped up into a strengthening phase, using elastic bands or light weights to challenge the cuff more vigorously, and finally into a full rehabilitation phase with gradual increases of resistance to fully recover the cuff, provide a solid foundation for all shoulder movements and limit the risk of future injuries.

These rotator cuff injury exercises are effective not just following an injury, but also as a preventive protocol to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place, and it can be used as a conditioning program even if not injured along normal weight or sport training to allow the cuff to withstand the exertions of high stress sports like tennis, baseball, golf or weight lifting where the deltoid and trapezius accelerations can overwhelm the rotator cuff underneath.

Consistency is a key factor for such therapy program to be successful, as is a professionally designed protocol of specific exercises for rotator cuff injury because DIY rehabilitation movements can do more harm than good and delay recovery, while the movements should be tailored to each individual case, depending on severity of the injury and age.

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