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Three Exercises to Boost Shoulder Strength
Dec 3, 2006 5:00 PM
Rotator cuff disease is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain, affecting more than 17 million Americans each year.
According to Robert Z. Tashjian, M.D., with University Health Care's Orthopaedic Center, rotator cuff injuries are often the result of performing repetitive activities with the arm overhead, either in work or sport, especially for people under the age of 40; these patients will often have inflammation around the tendons or rotator cuff tendonitis. For those older than 50, it is more common to see torn tendons, often due to age-related wear.
"Both groups complain of pain over the side of the shoulder, often running down to the elbow," explained Tashjian, also an assistant professor of orthopedics in the University of Utah School of Medicine.
The rotator cuff consists of a group of four tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint and allow the arm to be raised overhead. Those with the disease have limited mobility and often are unable to lift or hold their arm up because of pain.
Tashjian says preventing or improving symptoms related to rotator cuff disease can be aided by a daily shoulder exercise program.
"Keeping your shoulder loose and strong are the two most important components to good shoulder health," he said.
He recommends three exercises that can be worked into a daily exercise program. They take just 10 to 15 minutes to complete and can be performed once or twice a day. For each exercise, complete three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
Stand at arms length from a wall. Lift your arm until your fingers touch the wall. Then, slowly raise your arm while walking your hand up the wall. When you reach a point of resistance, lean in slightly to get a good stretch.
This exercise stretches the back of the shoulder. Take a bath towel by both hands, as if you are drying off your back, with the bad arm low and the good arm high behind your head. Slowly stretch out the bad shoulder by pulling up on the towel with the good arm. When you feel resistance, hold the position and then relax.
Lie down and hold a cane or pole between both hands. Push the cane toward the bad shoulder, rotating it outward. Hold the stretch at a point of resistance and then relax.
Once you've mastered the stretching exercises, Tashjian recommends seeing a physical therapist to develop an easy home program for rotator cuff strengthening. Before starting any exercise program, however, consult with your primary-care physician.
With a simple stretching and strengthening exercise program, people can greatly improve their shoulder health.
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