Rehabilitation for the Rotator Cuff
The Window Wiper
‘The Window Wiper’ movement is designed as a shoulder rehabilitation exercise that focuses on the external rotator-cuff muscles (i.e. Infraspinatus & Teres Minor) at three different angles.
How To …
Begin the exercise by facing a wall with both forearms flush against the wall
1. Rotate one arm downwards (pivot on elbow) while maintaining contact with your forearm, and finish with your first directly in front of your chest with forearm in horizontal position.
2. Rotate arm back to the start position and repeat the exercise with the opposite arm. Alternate arms until the exercise set is complete.
3. The Oblique Window Wiper exercise works the external rotator cuff muscles from another angle. Rotate your body to a 45* angle away from the wall. Maintain elbow and forearm contact, your opposite hand can rest on your hip.
4. The Side Window Wiper exercise requires the body to face 90* away from the wall while maintaining elbow and forearm contact, the other arm resting on your hip.
5. Use the light dumbbell or light resistance tubing to increase intensity of the exercise.
Whether you are tossing a football, painting a wall or playing tennis, you demand a lot from your shoulders’ rotator cuff. But unlike the big joints found in your lower body, the soft tissues are mainly the support for the shoulder.
There are 4 rotator cuff muscles (infraspinatus, supraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis) their primary purpose is providing stability to the entire shoulder complex which is the articulations involving the sternum,clavicle,ribs,scapula and humerus. Given the small size of these shoulder muscles and the large amount of demand from them, they can be easily torn due to trauma and or inflamed from overtraining.
Listen to the video below as André Noël Potvin discusses the most effective way to performs “window wipers.” These exercises are best practiced from three different angles and are designed for optimizing strength, increasing growth, and minimizing injury.
These movements are an effective therapy for shoulder pain and shoulder injuries, including Pitcher’s Shoulder, Swimmer’s Shoulder, Tennis Shoulder, Frozen Shoulder, Rotator Cuff syndromes and more. The proposed techniques are preventative and rehabilitative exercise.
These exercises are one of the most popular sets of movement that physiotherapists today prescribe for shoulder rehabilitation.
1. With the use of a dowel (stick), begin by ensuring your client’s posture is properly aligned to avoid slouching. Place the dowel on your clients back while noting the three connection points, at the head, shoulders and hips are in contact with the dowel.
2. Bend the knees slightly and hinge forward slightly at the hips. Keep a neutral spine throughout the exercise.
3. Have your client place one hand on a chair or a stability ball for support while they hold a light dumbbell in the other hand. Engage the core and hold that contraction through the exercise.
4. Start the movement by flexing the shoulder (raising the arm forward at the shoulder joint), then extend towards your hip and abduct (move away from the body) to move through the shoulders full range of motion and stimulate all appropriate muscles.
5. Hold each position for 5 seconds for a total of 3-5 reps and progress the exercise by slowly increasing the range of motion for each direction of movement.
Subscapularis Rotator Cuff Exercise
This movement is a versatile progression from a general internal rotation exercise in order to advance the movement pattern and strengthen the respective muscles around the shoulder joint.
1. Begin in a standing position while holding an elastic tubing band from a high anchor point, keeping the thumb pointing up (i.e. semi-pronated grip) while standing and maintaining a neutral spine with Anatomical Girdle Grip Activation.
2. Move arm downwards as it crosses your body towards your opposing hip, hold for 5 seconds, then slowly return to the start position. Do not compensate the movement by leaning towards the same direction the arm is moving to.
3. Progress the exercise through “tracking” the movement by turning your head towards your moving hand, then following it progressively downwards.
4. Use a soft medicine ball between your knees as a way to help keep the hips from twisting and/or compensating for the movement.
Watch below for the rotator cuff shoulder rehabilitation progression exercises in sequence to the “Subscapularis Rotator Cuff Exercise” as discussed previously.
Andre Noel Potvin also discusses rotator cuff strengthening and shoulder rehabilitation with Stretch Tubing. The internal rotation isolates your subscapularis which is responsible for concentric internal rotation of your humerus. Since your pectoral muscles also help internal rotation, if you have weak back muscles you do not want to strengthen your internal rotators any more but rather stretch them and strengthen your external rotators.
Rotator Cuff strengthening is important and should involve all four muscles of the rotator cuff. Remember, every single exercise which requires stabilization of your upper body works your rotator cuff to some extent. Rotator cuff strengthening is very important because an injury to this muscle group will make many upper body exercises painful and very difficult.
André Noël Potvin, MSc, CES, CSCS, TFL, is a Clinical Exercise Specialist and Owner of Infofit, North America’s Premier School for Fitness Professionals.