I think that cable external rotations are the best rotator cuff exercises.
If you have suffered from rotator cuff tendonitis or some other rotator cuff injury in the past, it is important to make sure that your rotator cuff muscles stay strong.
Note: If you have had a major injury recently and have pain even when you are not doing anything, you should consult with a licensed health professional.
The reason the cables are a great way to strengthen your rotator cuff is the constant tension and adjustable resistance.
Dumbbells are very effective at improving rotator cuff strength, but they offer a different benefit than cables. With dumbbells there is not always constant tension on the rotator cuff muscles.
As you lift a dumbbell, the line of pull of gravity changes and so the tension changes. However, with the cable the resistance stays fairly constant throughout the entire range of motion. This can really help to increase your strength.
There are 2 main ways you can use the cables to strengthen your rotator cuff. You can use a neutral shoulder position or an abducted shoulder position.
The neutral shoulder position is with your arm at your side. This position is less compressive than the abducted position. Always begin by mastering the neutral position first before moving on to the abducted position.
The abducted shoulder position is with your arm lifted out to the side to about 90 degrees. This position is more compressive, but it is also more functional. The rotator cuff is more vulnerable when the arm is moved out to the side (abducted), so strengthening the rotator cuff in this position will better help to prepare it for activities like throwing, swinging, lifting and reaching overhead.
I really think cable external rotation exercises are the best rotator cuff exercises, but if you don't have access to a cable machine you can also use dumbbell exercises or resistance band exercises to strengthen your rotator cuff.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Charles PT/PT
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