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Physical Therapy for Rotator Cuff Injuries

rotator-cuff-supraspinatus-tendon-tearWHAT IS A ROTATOR CUFF TEAR?

The rotator cuff is a muscle group in the shoulder that is responsible for rotation and stabilization in the glenohumeral GH joint. It consists of the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis or SITS muscles.  Supraspinatus is responsible for initial arm elevation; infraspinatus and teres minor are responsible for external rotation; and both Supra/infra and teres minor are responsible for depression of the humeral head during arm elevation greater than 90 degrees or above shoulder height.  Subscapularis is an internal rotator of the shoulder.

A tear in the rotator cuff typically refers to a muscle or tendon tear (mild, moderate, severe) that limits ability of the arm motion, good biomechanics in the GH joint and rotation and stabilization.


ActiveCare Physical Therapy recommends a variety of exercises to treat rotator cuff tears:


External Rotation: rotating the back of the hand away from the body while the elbow stays tucked in at your side.

Full Cans: lifting the arm up sideways slightly in front of the body, leading with the thumb.  Range of motion is limited to 60 degrees.


Posterior shoulder stretch: hugging your arm across your body at shoulder height.  You will feel a stretch in the back of your shoulder joint.

Supraspinatus stretch: bring your hand into the small of the back.  Use the other hand to hold onto the wrist of the hand behind the back and pull the arm across the back.

Sleeper Stretch: Lie on the affected side with the arm out at 90 degrees (shoulder height). Bend the elbow. Use the other hand to hold the back of the affected wrist and rotate the hand down toward the floor without moving the elbow.

To learn more about rotator cuff injuries, prevention and physical therapy treatment, give us a call today at 212-777-4374 or visit

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