If you want to avoid rotator cuff surgery, there’s a few things that you must do so that you can avoid it.
I’ll be honest….some people think it’s just easier to have the surgery. But don’t forget…there’s a recovery period and you have to put the effort in there to fully recover. So either way, YOU have to participate!
If you have shoulder pain and you have shoulder tendonitis…bursitis…impingement syndrome…it’s all relatively similar and this can work for you. If you have a small rotator cuff tear….this can work for you.
This is NOT for you if you have a full rotator cuff tear or a rotator cuff tear + something else. Please consult your trusted therapist for specific information for what you need.
This is what I take my patients through and what I tell them.
We need to gain FULL active and passive range of motion in all planes. That means you can reach high, behind your back, and behind your head.
- “Clean the wall”. Stand a forearm length away from the wall, place your palms on the wall and slowly slide your hands up the wall stretching out your shoulder. These are nice gentle ways of stretching for one particular direction.
- Reach behind the back. This one is the harder one and it might hurt a little…but it’s probably the one that is the most important. Clasp your hands together behind your back and relax, and stand up tall. As you get better, you should be able to have your hands together in the middle of your back and go up as high as you can.
- Push up plus position. This looks like a push up but you don’t have to go all the way down. Keep your elbows straight and only move your shoulders together and then apart. To make it easier, do it on hands and knees.
You want to do this with as little pain as possible so that you don’t aggravate the problem. If you are – you might be doing it wrong or you might not be ready to start at this level and might need it to be even easier. If that’s the case, you might want to go to a trusted OT or PT to help guide your progress.
As you get your motion back fully, then you can incorporate some strengthening. Some people try strengthening before they gain their mobility and can make it worse.
Strengthening should be pain free, no clicking, crunching, or popping with each and every rep. That can be a sign that you are not in the right position or you are not ready for strengthening.
Rotator Cuff Strengthening
Here are my 2 go-s for rotator cuff strengthening. The key element to getting strength of the rotator cuff is all about from and not about how heavy the weight is.
- Internal rotation – this is best done with a band. The easiest way to do this is with the arm by the side.
- External rotation – there’s a lot of ways to do this one. I prefer to do it with bands with the arm by the side when I’m starting with my clients. But I like to advance this to weights as fast as I can. One of my favorite positions for this is on your side.
Those are my top 5 exercises that I take my clients through when they have rotator cuff issues and help them avoid surgery.
This is exactly what I did to help my own mom after she got a frozen shoulder because she hurt herself and didn’t tell me! I know…I couldn’t believe it. But her doctors were ready to cut her up when the “ in-network therapy” she received at their location “didn’t work”.
Of course it didn’t work. No one really touched her, paid attention to her, nor did they do any of the correct things to get her arm moving.
No amount of hot packs, cold packs, estim, or ultrasound was going to help her achieve full motion, and strengthen the muscles that support the rotator cuff.
Now thankfully, she’s done with trying her in-network therapy just because it’s free. Now ever once in a while, if she over works herself…(yes she is almost 80 and won’t stop working), she comes in for a tune up session and we get her body moving pain free.
I don’t do this because I love her. I do it because I want her to be as independent for as long as she can so that she can enjoy her quality of life.
If you have a parent or a loved one who you know has shoulder pain – it’s possible to get the right kind of help and avoid surgery. They can achieve what my mother has achieved.
Pain free living.
If you’re in the Miami area, feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation and to discover if our therapy services are a good fit for your needs. Click here to request a free Discovery Visit.
Share this email with anyone you know who’s dealing with shoulder pain. It might help them make an informed decision and potentially avoid unnecessary surgery.
Let me know if you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them for you.
About Hoang Tran – an expert in physical & occupational therapy
Hoang Tran is a Miami certified hand therapist , the owner of Hands-on Therapy Services and the author of the book “The Hands-On Approach”. She loves helping people with hand, neck and shoulder problems because she knows how bad and debilitating they can get if not addressed and treated properly (once and for all!).
The aim of her occupational therapy practice is to bring patients back to full functionality, without pills, injections or surgery. Occupational and Physical Therapy are both offered at Hands-On Therapy by our experienced therapists who provide a comprehensive approach to your care.
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