Although most shoulder injuries occur in an athletic setting, athletes aren’t the only ones vulnerable to rotator cuff injuries. Moving your shoulders a certain way or reaching for things repeatedly over time can foreshadow a potential problem, according to Luke Mehringer, a certified athletic trainer at Indiana University Health Sports Performance. “It’s the little things we do a hundred times every day that no one thinks about,” he says.
Poor posture, bad work ergonomics, body anatomy and declining range of motion can all play a role in shoulder injuries, from chronic tendonitis to something more severe like a rotator cuff strain or tear. “If you have poor posture and your shoulders are really rolled forward to the front side of the body, you are already putting the rotator cuff muscles and tendons in a stretch,” Mehringer says. “They have to work nearly twice as hard to perform normal functions.”
To counter those effects and minimize the risk of shoulder and rotator cuff injuries, Mehringer recommends an easy set of rotator cuff and scapular muscle-strengthening exercises with little or no weights. He also encourages people to develop more postural awareness throughout the day.
Below, Mehringer demonstrates a few exercises that can strengthen and protect the muscles that support shoulder movement, including the rotator cuff and scapular muscles. “For people in a line of work that sets them up for injury, these are great corrective and strengthening exercises that don’t take much time,” he says. “The more you do them, the more your body adapts and builds that strength and stability.”
For a complete program, contact IU Health Sports Performance, where Mehringer and other certified strength and conditioning coaches can customize a workout for your specific needs. Call 317.848.JUMP (5867) for more information.
Image 1 - External rotation at 90 degrees.
Image 2 - Internal rotation at 0 degrees.
Image 3 - Internal rotation at 90 degrees.
Image 4 - External rotation at 0 degrees.
Image 5 - Scapular rows at 0 degrees.
Image 6 - Scapular rows at 90 degrees.