Rehabbing a rotator cuff injury often consists of completing set after mind-numbing set of shoulder external and internal rotation exercises.
As an athlete (especially if you swim, play baseball or participate in any overhead sport), these exercises may have been prescribed for you to repair an injured shoulder. However, remedial exercises that “target” the rotator cuff are not effective, because they isolate the muscle group.
Instead, you should perform shoulder exercises that develop stability in the rotator cuff and also train it to fire reflexively. (Learn ways to keep your rotator cuff healthy and pain-free.)
Loaded Carries is one exercise that accomplishes just that. To perform this shoulder-stabilizing exercise, simply hold a pair of heavy dumbbells in your hands, pull your shoulders down and back, and walk straight ahead, maintaining that posture throughout the set. (See How to Perform Loaded Carries and other variations of the exercise.)
Select dumbbells that are heavy enough to challenge your grip. Perform 3-4 sets of Loaded Carries for 30 seconds each. Take things up a notch by performing Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Carries, which will force your shoulder and wrists to stabilize.
Beyond the different loaded carry variations, the Single-Arm Med Ball Push-Up is another exercise that helps train rotator cuff stability.
Focus on keeping your shoulders down and back throughout the set and avoid any shrugging motion. Perform 2-3 sets for 5-6 repetitions on each side.
To keep your shoulder healthy, perform Loaded Carries and Single-Arm Med Ball Push-Ups before completing any overhead work or general pressing movements. These exercises will provide the most bang for your buck when it comes to training your rotator cuffs.