Forearm & Rotator Cuff Exercises

Rotator cuff exercises can help to prevent common injuries that occur in sports such as tennis, golf and baseball.

During a baseball pitch for example, the posterior rotator cuff muscles (external rotators, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor) are exposed to considerable eccentric contraction during the declaration phase (1,2,3,4). Unfortunately, many traditional isotonic exercises may ot be effective at targeting the roator cuff muscles (5).

The problem is often compounded with heavy resistance training. As the athlete strengthens the major muscle groups the rotator cuffs become disproportionately weak. They are placed under increasing strain as they try to 'keep up' with stronger muscles surrounding them. A program of specialist rotator cuff exercises to compliment regular strength training may be able to improve the strength of more isolated muscle groups such as the rotator cuff (5,6). Additionally, training these otherwise neglected muscles may even improve performance (6) as well as help to prevent future injury.

Athletes who are prone to rotator cuff damage are also often prone to tennis elbow. For the same reasons, it's worthwhile to perform some forearm and wrist strengthening exercises to help prevent this other common overuse injury occurring.


Rotator Cuff Exercises

The rotator cuff exercises are for preventative measures only. If you currently have pain in the area or rotator cuff damage do NOT perform any of these exercises. Instead seek advice from a qualified Physical Therapist or healthcare professional.

These rotator cuff exercises use light hand weights. However, resistance band exercises could also be adapted to bring about the same adaptations.

Keep to a weight of 2-5 lbs (1-2kg) maximum. Complete 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions for the following exercises in the order below.

External rotationExternal Rotation
1. Lie on side opposite of working arm.
2. Start position: Grasp dumbbell and flex elbow at 90deg keeping elbow in at side.
3. Rotate arm outward keeping elbow at 90deg.
4. Return to start position.
5. Remember to keep elbow firmly secured to side. You may put a rolled towel between the elbow and side to facilitate rotation and secure form.


Internal rotationInternal Rotation
1. Lie on same side of working arm.
2. Start position: Lying on a bench or bed grasp dumbbell and flex elbow at 90deg keeping elbow in at side. Forearm should start slightly below parallel to floor.
3. Rotate arm upward keeping elbow at 90deg.
4. Return to start position.
5. Remember to keep elbow firmly secured to side. You may put a rolled towel between the elbow and side to facilitate rotation and secure form.

Horizontal rotationHorizontal Rotation
1. Stand with your elbows at shoulder level and flexed at 90 degrees.
2. Hold a weight plate in each hand and externally rotate your hands up towards the ceiling.
3. Return to the starting position.






Wrist Exercises

You can perform the exercises below with either a set of dumbbells or a barbell. Again keep the weight relatively light (although not as light for rotator cuff exercises) and aim for 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

Reverse wrist curlsReverse Wrist Curls
1. Sit in upright position and rest forearms on corresponding thighs with the palms facing down.
2. Hands and wrists should be off the thighs or table (as shown).
3. Raise the weight by extending at the wrist.
4. Lower the weight and repeat.5. Remember to keep the forearms flat and supported on the thighs or bench throughout the movement. Trunk should be flexed forward at the hips - keep back straight throughout movement.

Wrist Curls
Repeat the exercise above in exactly the same way except start with the palms facing up rather than down. This will work a different part of the forearm muscles.

Wrist Rotation
1. For this exercise use a broom handle or similar sized bar. It should not be heavy like a barbell however.
2. Sitting down place one hand on your knee holding the end of the broom handle. Your forearm should be resting flat on your knee.
3. The broom handle should point directly up as though it is extending from your knee.4. Keeping your forearm flat against your thigh rotate your wrist to the left and then to the right. The broom handle will rotate from pointing directly up to pointing directly out to the left and then to your right.5. Complete 10 repetitions to each side and then change hands.

Use this wrist and rotator cuff exercises 3 days a week preferably not on consecutive days. You can perform them alongside a weight training program or even at the end of a strength training workout.


My Recommended Rotator Cuff Program

Ultimate Rotator Cuff GuideIf you suffer with your rotator cuff and want an alternative to pain killers and possibly even surgery, then take a look at this program by Physical Theapist Brian Schiff...

It's a step-by-step guide to help overcome or prevent rotator cuff problems using a medically proven system.

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Return from this rotator cuff exercises page
to the main strength training section



References
1) Gowan ID, Jobe FW, Tibone JE, Perry J, Moynes DR. A comparative electromyographic analysis of the shoulder during pitching. Professional versus amateur pitchers. Am J Sports Med. 1987 Nov-Dec;15(6):586-90
2) Pappas AM, Zawacki RM, Sullivan TJ. Biomechanics of baseball pitching. A preliminary report. Am J Sports Med. 1985 Jul-Aug;13(4):216-22
3) Jobe FW, Tibone JE, Perry J, Moynes D. An EMG analysis of the shoulder in throwing and pitching. A preliminary report. Am J Sports Med. 1983 Jan-Feb;11(1):3-5
4) Jobe FW, Moynes DR, Tibone JE, Perry J. An EMG analysis of the shoulder in pitching. A second report. Am J Sports Med. 1984 May-Jun;12(3):218-20
5) Page PA, Lamberth J, Abadie B, Boling R, Collins R, Linton R. Posterior Rotator Cuff Strengthening Using Theraband(R) in a Functional Diagonal Pattern in Collegiate Baseball Pitchers. J Athl Train. 1993 Winter;28(4):346-354
6) Treiber FA, Lott J, Duncan J, Slavens G, Davis H. Effects of Theraband and lightweight dumbbell training on shoulder rotation torque and serve performance in college tennis players. Am J Sports Med. 1998 Jul-Aug;26(4):510-5

RECOMMENDED RESOURCE

Ultimate Rotator Cuff GuideIf you suffer with your rotator cuff and want an alternative to pain killers and possibly even surgery, then take a look at this program by Physical Theapist Brian Schiff...

It's a step-by-step guide to help overcome or prevent rotator cuff problems using a medically proven system.

Here are the details...

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