If you start researching rotator cuff problems on the internet there is a huge amount of information some of which is somewhat confusing. Should you exercise or not, if so what is the best kind of shoulder physical therapy exercise.
Having suffered a partial tear of my rotator cuff and a subsequent shoulder impingement I feel well qualified by experience to answer this question.
Firstly, do not make the mistake that I did and try to work through your problems. The rotator cuff is one set of muscles that will definitely not benefit from exercise when they are injured. Rest is essential if you are going to stand any chance of repairing your rotator cuff without resorting to surgery.
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that has two main functions. They help to hold the shoulder in place when we move and they also help with rotational movement of the arm. These are relatively small muscles but don't let their size lead you into thinking that they can't cause major problems.
A rotator cuff injury can be debilitating. You may start off with simple rotator cuff tendonitis. This is simply inflammation of the tendons. It manifests itself as a dull ache in the shoulder which sometimes extends down the arm. Rest at this stage will often solve the problem allowing the inflammation to go down. Exercise too soon and it will simply cause more problems.
If the inflammation becomes too severe you can end up with a rotator cuff impingement where an inflamed tendon is getting pinched by the bone of the shoulder. Again rest is the first part of the treatment and can be helped by applying cold packs to the muscles of the shoulder.
Only when the pain has subsided and free movement has returned should you start to do any form of physical therapy. Start too soon and you will simply be back to square one.
Weight bearing exercises are out. Don't start lifting weights to solve a shoulder problem. You need gentle exercise that will gradually build up the injured muscles. I have found that the best kind of shoulder physical therapy exercise is Pilates or Yoga based. These exercises help to get the balance back into your muscles, developing the whole shoulder joint without putting undue strain on any part of it. Because they are low resistance, low weight exercises they also significantly reduce the risk of further injury.
Whatever you decide to do to help recover from a rotator cuff injury make sure you start by resting your shoulder for as long as it takes to heal. It will be frustrating but will pay dividends in the end.
If you found this article useful or just plain interesting and would like to know more about shoulder physical therapy exercise and recovering from a rotator cuff injury check out my site at
My name is Nick Bryant and I am an older dad to two young children aged seven and five. I am keen on staying fit and active so that I can enjoy an active life with my children as they grow. Having suffered a shoulder injury that put me out of action for several painful months, I was keen to share my experience and let others know how I managed a full recovery without surgery despite being told that it was necessary.