Most rotator cuff exercises focus on strengthening the external rotators of the shoulder, but it is just as important to strengthen the internal rotators of the shoulder.
Internal rotation refers to turning the shoulder inwards, and the exercise below is a great for increasing shoulder stability.
When you perform rotational exercises, you can do them from a neutral position (which is when the arm is by your side) or you can do them from an abducted position (which is when your arm is out to the side).
The neutral position is less compressive on the shoulder, so you should generally begin by practicing rotation with your arm at your side. But once you've mastered rotation with your arm at your side, you should progress to rotational exercises with your arm out to the side about 90 degrees.
Below are pictures of internal rotation with a dumbbell while lying face-up.
Starting Position: Begin by lying on a bench with your feet up to support your lower back. While holding a dumbbell, bring your arm out to the side to about 90 degrees and keep your arm perpendicular to the floor.
Form: Inhale and slowly allow the dumbbell to move towards the floor. Hold for a brief second when your arm gets parallel to the floor, and then exhale and rotate your arm until it's perpendicular to the floor.
Personal Trainer Tips: In this exercise, your upper arm should stay in the same position throughout, so focus on only letting your shoulder rotate backwards and forwards.
Move in a slow and controlled manner, and use a comfortable range of motion. You don't have to let the dumbbell go backwards as far as possible. Stop once you get to about 90 degrees (parallel to the floor).
If you allow your arm to rotate too far backwards you will place increased pressure on the shoulder.
Begin with a light weight and build up slowly. This exercise is about developing control and stability, so don't feel like you have to lift super heavy weights.
If you have a history of dislocating your shoulder, listen to your body and limit your range of motion.
This is a great exercise for swimmers, pitchers, volleyball players, or anyone else in a throwing or swinging sport.
The external rotators are very important, but remember that it is important to work the internal rotators as well.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Charles PT/PT
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