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3 Powerful Exercises for Strengthening Rotator Cuff Muscles: Internal, External, Scaption

The shoulders are the main weapon that athletes and sportsmen, especially who are involved in sports like swimming, basketball, tennis etc., have. Any type of injury to the shoulder muscles can lead to major setbacks in the performance of these athletes. The important part of our shoulders is the rotator cuff muscles, which stabilizes the shoulders and maintains functionality of the shoulders. These muscles are very small and hence are susceptible to injuries if they are put through strenuous processes to cater the demands of sportsmen who play sports like tennis, swimming, etc. There are four rotator cuff muscles i.e., the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis muscles and injury to any of them may result in dysfunction of the shoulders. In this article, we will give some tips as to how to maintain a healthy rotator cuff.

The Two Main Concepts To Maintain Adequate Rotator Cuff Health Are:

  • To be able to maintain full range of motion of the shoulders.
  • To strengthen up the muscles of rotator cuff.

How Do We Assess The Range Of Motion Of The Shoulder?

For This, There Are Some Easy Steps As Follows:

  • Keep a hand behind your back and then try and slide it upwards towards the neck along the spine and see if you are able to do it.
  • Keep one hand behind your head and try and slide it down to touch the shoulder blades and see if you are able to do it.

If you feel that you are not able to do this test appropriately or feel any restriction or pain then you can do an exercise called the “Towel Stretch” to make the shoulders more flexible. To do this, you will have to:

  • Place a towel behind the back with one hand holding it from top and the other hand holding it from bottom.
  • Now, Try and move the fingers together as well as gently pull from each direction in the most restricted part of the motion.
  • Maintain this position for about half a minute and do it for two to three times.

3 Powerful Exercises for Strengthening Rotator Cuff Muscles

3 Powerful Exercises for Strengthening Rotator Cuff Muscles

The exercises described below to help a great deal in increasing the strength of the rotator cuff muscles. Try and make use of a cable tower in the gym while doing these exercises.

Internal Rotation of the Shoulders for Strengthening Rotator Cuff Muscles

Stand with lifting the arm nearest to the machine with the elbow being flexed at 90 degrees. Now, try and rotate the hand from outward to inward and try and bring the hand towards the belly.

Internal Rotation Exercise for Strengthening Rotator Cuff Muscles

External Rotation of the Shoulders for Strengthening Rotator Cuff Muscles

Now, do just the opposite of what we did above and stand with the lifting arm farthest from machine. Bend the elbow at 90 degrees and rotate the hand outwards from the abdomen.

Scaption or Scapular Plane Elevation for Strengthening Rotator Cuff Muscles

Lift the arm in the upward direction at a 30 degree angle forward of frontal plane. Make sure the shoulder blade is not moving towards the ear.

Practicing these exercises can help a lot in strengthening the rotator cuff muscles and keep your performance at the maximum.


  1. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2021). Rotator Cuff Tears https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/rotator-cuff-tears/
  2. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Rotator Cuff Injury https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rotator-cuff-injury/symptoms-causes/syc-20350225
  3. OrthoInfo. (2021). Rotator Cuff and Shoulder Conditioning Program https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/recovery/rotator-cuff-and-shoulder-conditioning-program/

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 28, 2023

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