Exercises for Torn Rotator Cuff

image001Usually when someone tears their rotator cuff, this means that they tear at least one of the muscles in this area. During the recovery process, the goal is to encourage the widest possible range of motion and strengthen the shoulder muscles evenly. Because of that, the exercises for torn rotator cuff focus mostly on increasing both flexibility and strength.

Exercises for Torn Rotator Cuff

Before doing any of the following exercises, it is important to keep in mind that they are not designed to replace the advice of a doctor or physical therapist, but to supplement their suggestions and should only be performed after visiting a professional and being cleared to start lifting again. The recommended method for these exercises is to do a circuit in which you do three sets of each exercise.

Arm Circle


  1. Start this exercise by standing and putting both arms straight out to your sides. When you are in position, you should be creating a 90 degree angle with your arms and torso (so the arms are parallel with the floor).
  2. Begin to slowly make circles with each of your outstretched arms. The circles should be around one foot in diameter and you should breathe normally during the movement.
  3. Repeat this circular motion with your outstretched arms for around ten seconds. After ten seconds, reverse the direction of rotation to work the other direction.
  4. Each set of this exercise is ten seconds (for each direction) and a circle is one rep. In total you should do 20 rotations.

Dumbbell Press


  1. For this exercise you will need an exercise bench and two dumbbells. Begin by holding the dumbbells about level with your upper chest and right in front of you. Your elbows should be bent, your palms should face your body and your arms will be right next to the torso. This starting position is similar to a dumbbell curl at the contracted part.
  2. To do the movement, rotate your palms so that they face forward as you lift the dumbbells.
  3. You should keep lifting up the dumbbells until your arms become straight, completely extended above you. Be sure to breathe out during this lifting motion of the exercise.
  4. Once you reach the top (your arms are completely extended) pause for a second. Then start lowering the dumbbells while rotating your palms back towards you. This should bring you back to your original position. If it helps, keep in mind that your left arm will rotate counterclockwise and the right one will rotate clockwise. This is the part of the exercise where you should breathe in. One set of this exercise is 15 repetitions.

Side Lateral Raise


  1. This is another standing exercise. To do it, you should begin by standing up, making sure that your torso is straight, and with a dumbbell in each hand. Your palms should be facing you. Remember this position as it is the starting one.
  2. Throughout the exercise, you should be sure to maintain the stationary position of your torso, so you should avoid swinging the weights. You will lift your hands (and the dumbbells) up your side. Your hands should be tilted slightly forward and your elbows should be slightly bent (as if you were pouring water). You should keep moving up until your arms become parallel with the floor. Be sure to exhale during this part of the movement.
  3. Pause for a second before slowly lowering the dumbbells back down to your starting position. This is the part of the movement when you should inhale. You should do this exercise 15 times.

Reverse Fly


  1. When you begin this movement you will be lying down on top of an incline bench. Both your stomach and chest should press on the bench. Hold the dumbbells in a neutral grip with each palm facing the other.
  2. Bring your arms up to your front until they become perpendicular with the bench’s angle. You should keep your legs stationary and apply pressure using the balls of your feet. Remember this posture as it is the starting position.
  3. Keep your elbows slightly bent and exhale while moving the weights out and away (going to the side) in an arc. Tip: To get best results, try squeezing the shoulder blades together.
  4. Keep elevating your arms until they become parallel with the floor.
  5. After feeling the contraction, start to slowly lower the dumbbells back to your starting position. Do this exercise 10 times while inhaling.

Lying Rear Delt Raise


  1. For this exercise, you need to lay chest down on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each of your hands.
  2. Start with your palms facing the torso, which should be a neutral position. Be sure to keep your arms extended and the elbows bent slightly. Remember this as the starting position.
  3. Raise your arm up to the side, stopping once your arm is parallel with the floor and your elbow is level with your shoulders. During this movement, you should be exhaling and be sure to keep your arm at a perpendicular angle with your torso as well as extended.
  4. Hold the contraction for a second then start to slowly lower the weight back to your starting position while inhaling. Do this 15 times before repeating with the other arm.

Cable Internal Rotation


  1. Sit down by a low pulley so that you sideways (your legs can be either crossed or straight in front of you). Hold the attachment for a single hand using the arm that is closest to the cable.
  2. Place your elbow so that it is by your side and at a 90 degree angle with your arm pointing at the pulley. Remember this as the starting position.
  3. Rotate your shoulder internally so that your forearm crosses your abs. This will pull the cable attachment for single hand and create a semi-circle.
  4. Slowly bring your arm back to the starting position. Do this 15 times before switching arms.
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