Whether you are an athlete, or you simply work out on a regular basis to stay in shape, there is a chance that you will develop a rotator cuff injury. A rotator cuff injury can be extremely difficult to live with and can heal extremely slow, placing major limitations on your daily activities for a long time. The injury can also be very painful and bothersome for a person who is affected.
The rotator cuff contains four muscles that are meant to stabilize the shoulder and allow it to move through its full range of motion. Any portion of this structure can become injured, and there are many different ways each structure can malfunction.
If you have suffered a rotator cuff injury, it may take a long time to heal. However, there are some exercises you can do to reduce the amount of time you spend recovering from rotator cuff injury. There are many different types of rotator cuff injuries and understanding what each one causes will reduce the stress experienced in dealing with recovery.
Types of Rotator Cuff Injuries
The majority of rotator cuff injuries are classified as impingements or tears. There is a significant difference between the two types of injuries. We will explain here.
Impingement is an injury that occurs when the inside of the rotator cuff structure swells and squeezes the other structures in the joint. This causes pinching in the joint involving the shoulder and the arm. Many times, this injury is caused by straining or misusing a muscle.
A tear is a less common injury in the rotator cuff. When a tear occurs, it is in the muscle or tendon in the shoulder. Most tears do not require surgery, but in severe cases, it might be necessary.
A common cause of this type of injury is repetitive motions with the arm while it is held over the head. This is why it is a common injury in athletes and people who like to work out. It can also be caused by an impact to the shoulder, or other traumatic injury.
What to Do Immediately After an Injury
When you have any injury, you should immediately follow the RICE method of treatment. This approach involves resting, icing, applying compression, and elevating the injured site. After the swelling has gone down, and the pain has decreased in your shoulder, there are a number of stretches you can do to prevent common issues, like loss in range of motion, or what it is commonly referred to, frozen shoulder. These stretches are:
- Doorway stretches
- Side-lying external rotation
- High to low rows
- Reverse fly
- Lawn mower pulls
As your injury heals, you should be able to add light weight to each of these exercises. Many physical therapists recommend using a resistance band for these exercises because they reduce the risk of injury involved in using free weights.
If you are suffering from a shoulder injury that does not seem to be healing, you should consult your doctor, or a physical therapist for individualized advice on your injury.