Dynamic Shoulder Exercises and Rotator Cuff Injury

Rotator cuff injuries are one of the most common causes of shoulder pain and are not just limited to sporting athletes. Painters, carpenters, gym goers, or anyone who frequently lifts above the head are often affected by rotator cuff injuries. Although commonly an overuse problem, the rotator cuff can also be injured in a single incident, and even innocuous incidents can be to blame… reaching for an object or your seatbelt for example!

Recovering completely from a shoulder injury can be a lengthy process. The shoulder moves in many different ways and the rotator cuff is responsible for controlling these movements.

Muscle activation and correct movement patterns are vital in the early to intermediate stages. Then, during the later stages, it is important to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles throughout range of motion, particularly the diagonal patterns.

One of our clients at SWEAT Southsea has a history of rotator cuff pain; Stuart trains regularly with the team at SWEAT and is now at a stage where he can progress on to complex dynamic shoulder exercises.  Below are a couple of examples of the types of exercises he has been completing, whilst under the supervision of highly experienced SWEAT trainer, Luke. 

It is important to note there are a number of contraindications for these exercises, including acute injury to the shoulder or core. If you are new to lifting weights it is always best to seek the advice and guidance from a knowledgeable personal trainer or consult an injury specialist if using for rehabilitation purposes.


Deadlift into Diagonal Press


This exercise works both shoulders in opposite planes of movement, involving both a pull and a push mechanism. It begins with a deadlift with the nearest hand lifting the bar. As the bar reaches hip height, he passes it into the opposite hand to then diagonally shoulder press across the body. The opposite movement is then performed in a controlled manner to return the bar to the ground. The barbell moves fluidly throughout this exercise and Stuart’s deadlift and movement patterns have been well drilled prior to trying this exercise.


Diagonal External Rotation


For this exercise there is an extra focus on the control at the end of the movement. Luke has allowed for Stuart to use a small degree of hip thrust to get the bar up. This exercise starts with the barbell level with the hips and is held in the hand closest to the bar. Stuart then uses a small squat and hip thrust movement to help raise the bar into abduction and external rotation. A good level of core strength is required to control the diagonal movement. The rotator cuff muscles then work isometrically to prevent excessive external rotation before working eccentrically to control the bar back into the start position. 

Blog author and Sports Therapist Hollie Charles enjoys combining manual Sports Therapy techniques with gym-based and sport specific exercises to return patients to, or exceed, pre-injury fitness and skill levels. Hollie is also keen to work with non-injured clients to achieve their specific goals and educate about injury prevention along the way.