10 Best Rotator Cuff Pain Stretches – Ask Doctor Jo


hey everybody it’s doctor Jo and Bear,
and today we’re going to show you the top ten stretches for the rotator cuff.
so let’s get started. so these top ten stretches are my
favorite top ten. there’s no research behind it it’s just what I found has
worked best for me and for my patients. so by the term rotator cuff, that usually
means four main muscles. so supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor
and subscapularis, but when you really think about the rotator cuff, the rotator
cuff has a lot to do with the scapula and the shoulder blade, and there’s like
20 muscles that attach to the scapula, so when we’re doing stretches, we’re not
just stretching those rotator cuff muscles, we’re stretching all the muscles
around that scapula and shoulder blade because if one of those are out of
balance, it’s going to make everything else out of balance and cause a lot of
problems with the rotator cuff. and just a reminder for the stretches when you’re
doing a stretch, you want to hold it for at least 30 seconds and do it three
times, so that really lets those muscle fibers go, help stretch them out that
Golgi tendon organ, or the GTO, you really need that 30-second hold for it to relax
and let go, so 30 seconds three times. so the first stretch that we’re gonna do is
pendulums. pendulums are one of my favorites for the shoulder. what it does
is it really just helps open up that joint, loosen up those muscles, really
kind of get them warmed up for you to stretch. so let’s take a look at that. for
shoulder pendulums, you’re just gonna dangle your arm down towards the floor,
you’re not actively gonna move your arm, but you’re going to use your body to
move your arm making circles and then reverse it the other way. for shoulder arm swings front to back,
just let your arm dangle down, you’re not actually moving the arm but you’re
moving your body to make your arm move. for shoulder arm swings from side to side,
just dangle your arm down. keep it nice and relaxed, you’re not actually moving
your arm but you’re moving your body side to side. the next stretch is just going to be a
scaption stretch, so scaption is basically not flexion out in front of
you, not abduction out to the side, but it’s kind of right in the middle, and
just doing some scaption stretches going straight up and down is a really great
way just to kind of again stretch out that shoulder, but not holding the
stretch just kind of getting those muscles warmed up and moving, so let’s
check those out. for shoulder scaption active range of motion, put your thumb in
an upward position and keep your arms straight, it’s not completely out to the
front and it’s not out to the side, it’s about in the middle at a 45 degree angle,
and just bring it up to about 90 degrees. number three. so stretching with a stick
or a PVC pipe, you can use you a cane if you have a cane, is a great way to really
get that extra stretch especially maybe you’re not able to quite get that
movement yet, so we’re going to do a flexion stretch with a stick, so let’s
check that out. for shoulder flexion passive range of
motion with a stick, you can use a cane, or a broomstick, or PVC pipe if you have
some. your arm is just going to go along for the ride, so the other arm is going
to do all the movement it’s just going up and down, and then the other ones just
sitting on top. number four, now we’re going to go into
an abduction stretch with a stick, so again I really like using the stick it
kind of helps get into that stretch if you’re still in a passive stage, or an
active assistive stage where you can’t really move it on your own yet, like
you’re not supposed to because of a precaution or just because you can’t
because it still hurts a lot. using the stick really helps move that shoulder
and that arm for you without you having to actively doing it. so let’s check out. for
abduction for shoulder abduction passive range of motion with the stick, you can
use a cane, a broomstick, or PVC pipe if you have some. your arm is just going to
go along for the ride and the other one’s doing all the movement. so it’s pushing
the arm up, just set your hand on top of the cane or the PVC pipe with your thumb
pointed upwards, and then just push your arm up as comfortably as you can. number five is going to be external
rotation stretch with the stick. so the same concept you’re using that stick to
push through that motion to really get that stretch and a lot of times again
it’s too painful to do or maybe you’re not supposed to actively use those
muscles yet if you’ve had a surgery or something, so this is a great way to get
that stretch and that passive or that active assisted range of motion. so let’s
take a look at that. for shoulder external rotation passive range of
motion with a stick, you can use a cane, a broomstick, or PVC pipe if you have some.
the arm is just going to go along for the ride, and the other one’s going to do
all the movement. bend your elbow and put it by your side, keep it there the whole
time, try not and let it come out, then hold on to the pipe with your thumb up
and then push outwards and come back in. so remember make sure that elbow is not
coming away from your side. number six wall slides. I really love
wall slides because again you’re using something to kind of help support your
arm, so it’s just like it sounds, you’re sliding up the wall, but it’s great
because instead of actively doing it all by yourself, you have the wall to kind of
help support your arm, and you also have that wall to kind of lean against and
push up against to get that extra stretch, so it’s a great way to get that
stretch. let’s check it out. for a shoulder wall slide, place your hand on
the wall with your thumb facing outwards, slide your hand up the wall as far as
you comfortably can. number seven internal rotation stretch
with the towel. this one’s kind of tough. it’s a little bit uncomfortable, but it’s
going to be the one that helps get that arm up behind your back, that internal
rotation motion. it’s not always comfortable sometimes a little bit
painful if you’ve had that rotator cuff injury, this is usually the hardest one
to get back, but using a towel really helps stretch and get that movement back.
so let’s take a look at that. for an internal rotation towel stretch, roll up
a towel and with the hand that you’re not going to stretch with, put it up and
behind you. then the one you want to stretch it’s going to go down behind you
and then you’re going to pull upwards. so I’m gonna turn around so you can see it. number eight. another great way to get
that internal rotation, but not maybe going back behind you but just getting
that internal rotation stretch is what we call a sleeper stretch. this one’s
really great too, and you can use your other arm to kind of help push through
it which is nice again it’s a little uncomfortable, but you know you don’t
want to be in pain while you’re doing it, you just want to feel a lot of tension
while you’re doing it. so let’s check it out. for shoulder
internal rotation sleeper stretch, the arm that you’re going to stretch is on
the ground. put your shoulder and elbow at about a ninety degree angle, and then
take your other hand and push it downwards towards the floor until you
feel a stretch. number nine a corner stretch. this is
really just to help open up those chest muscles .it’s a great way again to get
that stretch using the wall to kind of help push through that stretch and all
these muscles in here. again some of them might not specifically be those rotator
cuff muscles, but they’re muscles that are really important to keep stretched and
loose and help that whole rotator cuff in general, so let’s check out the corner
stretch. for a corner chest stretch, place a hand on each side of the corner and
one foot in the corner then push in and hold the stretch. number ten a prayer stretch, or in yoga
sometimes they call it the Child’s Pose. this is another one of my favorites
because if you can get comfortably in this position you can just relax your
whole body and let your shoulders get that stretch. you can go a little bit
side to side or you can just go straight down for that shoulder flexion. I really
really like this one so let’s check it out. for the prayer stretch, start off
sitting on your feet and then you’re going to push your arms straight out in
front of you on the ground holding the stretch. so there you have, it those were the top
ten stretches for the rotator cuff. if you’d like to help support my channel,
make sure you click on the link up here to find out how, and don’t forget to
subscribe by clicking down here, and remember be safe, have fun, and I hope you
feel better soon.

100 thoughts on “10 Best Rotator Cuff Pain Stretches – Ask Doctor Jo

  1. I'm yr out from rotator cuff surgery, you helped me before and after my surgery, I do these every morning, so this is one of my favorite channel's.

  2. Hi jo, about a month ago my left lower trap seized up and was very painful for the rest of the day, the pain isn't as bad as it was now but it's not completely going away, I've tried stretching, heat rub and a massage ball. Any ideas what it could be? Thank you.

  3. hi mam i had acl reconstruction on left knee today marks the 7 months. i exercise regularly 2 times a day but i can't extend my knee and remains more stiff in morning every day.
    please help me.

  4. Hello DoctorJo, What does it mean in English, my MRI report says: (1) "Mild nonspecific axillary pouch edema, seen in clinical entity of adhesive capsulitis" (2)" Mild supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendinitis without discrete tear." Which of your video to follow or I need to find a PT?

  5. So are you supposed to hold all of these for 30 seconds three times each except for the first two like you said in the beginning of this video?

  6. I love this video it is so helpful and the movements so simple, I've had pain for almost 40 years! I love you Dr Jo !

  7. Hey DoctorJ. The ortho surgeon I just saw tells me my bicep tendon is pulling off of the labrum at the insertion point. Will these help? Every time I stretch it, it feels more sore the next day. I'm not sure what helps and what hinders this.
    BTW, your videos are great. Thanks so much

  8. I recently developed some sort of shoulder tendonitis. I don't know what caused it and that really pisses me off. These last few days, it's aggravated, especially after my last pull day at the gym(i reckon heavy deadlifts and pull ups are the culprits). I kinda feel desperate cos i don't want to step out of my gym endeavors. I hope your stretches have a positive effect on me.

  9. OMG! I don't know if i have just an impingement or a tear, but I have been in pain for weeks. Like horrible pain. These movements, (I just did all of them) are the only thing that has given me relief! Pendulums feel like OMG THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I think that it may be an impingement, because as soon as I did them I feel like space was made in the joint, and the pain almost instantly stopped while I was performing the stretches! I was then able to do the rest of them. Will do them 3x a day. Thank you so much. I do hope that I just have an impingement, and that these exercises plus no use of that arm for a while, will help me heal! BTW, it does hurt when I do some of the exercise, so I just limited the range of motion. Is that okay?

  10. Recently I was diagnosed with extreme arthritis in my right shoulder. My doctors recommendation was to build up the muscles in my shoulder to compensate this disease. I cannot afford physical therapy. I feel so greatfull I have found your you tube page.

  11. My right arm has recently been hurting me and it literally came out of nowhere. I’m very frustrated, but your videos seem very promising. My left shoulder had a tear in the ligament a few years ago, so now that my right arm is hurting, it scares me.

  12. love ya Doc. i was in pain these are helping i still feel like my socket is out a bit will this eventually move it back in? Also how may times a day should i do this?

  13. I can't thank you enough for this video. In October, an orthopod diagnosed me with a small rotator tear "typical for your age."  His only advice was to "keep moving it, all the time, so it doesn't freeze."  After two months of haplessly flapping my arm around and getting worse, I found this video.  I had some relief after doing it just once and now, after a month, I'm almost completely pain free.  Again, thank you.

  14. Several months ago I broke me arm in two places and was immobilized for 3 months. There was non-union of one the fracture so I ended up needing surgery. In total, my arm and shoulder were immobilized for a total of 6 months. Then I couldn’t move my shoulder! My OT/PT therapist focused on my wrist and hand only. So I performed these shoulder exercises exactly as performed by Dr. Jo. Within only 4 months of doing them daily, I regained complete shoulder movement and strength! I no longer need a towel for the back stretch, I can touch the fingers with both hands!

  15. Hey Doc, thanks for this video really. The pain I have comes every winter, usually while i am sleeping at night… I am wondering if I should be doing this while i am in pain? and what would be the best moment during the day to work out these stretches ?

  16. Hi…..Dr..I also had a terrible Shoulder Pain.I had a pain in my Right side when i do the US its shows I had a Bruce and tissues problems In my LEFT Hand,,,,any way ,,all the time i trying to find some Frozen Shoulder Exercise in the YouTube that make me very Helpful. now 85% recover my hands all the time doing exercise and massage by also Physiotherapy. Thank u mam after my shower i am going to start.yours .You are very beautiful..I love u Dr.JO.God Bless u.

  17. Thank you, for sharing the rotator cuff exercises. My job is physical, and this is the first time I'v e experienced pain in my shoulder lasting for a few weeks. Thanks, for being kind enough to share your advice, I really appreciate it! Your dog, Bear, is cute!

  18. I am sooo familiar with all these stretches. I had rotator cuff repair in January and 4 months of physical therapy. I'm so glad i found you on you tube.

  19. a few months ago found out the extreme pain I felt was swelling of tendons in the rotator cuff and a little inflammation…Right arm has been somewhat numb and I had a cortisone shot and of course now weak arm…..So recently started really stretching it and doing workouts….any advice?

  20. AskDoctorJo. I know this is an old thread, but I just found you! I wonder if you can help me figure out my right shoulder… The 1st part is: I can lift my arm almost straight up with moderate pain and stiffness. I can put it down to my hip but to my back only with pain and assistance getting there. The pain isn't acute, just a feeling like I'm bending my shoulder way too far. The 2nd part is: If I hold my arm straight out in front of me and cross my straight arm over to the left it feels like my shoulder is coming out of socket to the right side. If, from there, I transition to the position with my elbow down to my side and my fist strait up, this movement is very difficult / weak and it feels again that my shoulder is unstable on the outside right. How can I stabilize and strengthen that better? And, how would you address the stiffness? Does repetitive stretching help ? My left arm is day and night different with no limitations whatsoever.

  21. THANK YOU so much for these! I am facing surgery on my left arm in 3 weeks and my right shoulder and arm started killing me which the Doctor said is arthritis and rotator cuff. I told the doc I was in such pain with the right I couldn't do the left surgery. He said it has to be done (long story), Anyway I started these stretches and already after 4 days, my right shoulder and arm feel better! I am so glad I found you. God Bless.

  22. So I had surgery when I was 18. And my body absorbed the bone instead of the tendon anchors. And it basically looks like rheumatoid arthritis now. And iv lost quite a bit of movement. The whole shoulder feels tight. But My only pain is due to inflammation. Is there any hope of gaining more movement?

  23. Hi doc. I get pain in my shoulders when I do side planks. Any other exc I can do. Im a yoga practitioner so I do a lot of shoukder stands n inversions. But Only when I hold planks on side. It's pains. Will these exercises help?

  24. Is there any way we can find the drawn
    Not always near YouTube
    And I just started doing your recommendations
    Thank you very much
    Hope I am going to be pain free again soon

  25. Awesome exercise, immediate shoulder pain relief.. im not even sure what my diagnosis is, but i have so much shoulder pain, after doing this its completely gone… thanks a lot !!

  26. Thanks for the amazing content it really help me ! But doctor the 4th exercice really hurts my shoulder when I let my arm comes back 🙁 but I feel a little bit better after all these exercices, thanks!!!

  27. on the exercises where you are using the stick, where exactly do you hold for 30 seconds? at the farthest motion point before returning?

  28. Thanks for the video. So all the stretch positions are suppose to hold it for 30 seconds each time, instead of like in your video, doing them over and over again without holding? Thanks!

  29. mam i can do lot better stretches than these stretches that you mentioned ,these are very easy for me.
    i am doing stretches since last 3 months and doing rotater cuff , scapular, chest , lats, and arm exercises,
    but still while doing wide arm exercises like wide arm lat pull down and chest flies and chest cable cross, i feel little pain in my right shoulder , what to do.

  30. quickly, you stated at the beginning that stretches should be 30 seconds…..but .you don't really hold for very long. Is this for
    demo purposes only? Did I miss something? Can't wait to try these as both my shoulders are becoming tight with pain radiating down toward the elbow. Will check out your channel for wrist tendonitis next…..

  31. Dr jo, I have a rhomboid strain and rotator cuff strain at the same time. Exercises that are meant to help with rhomboid are to straining for the rotator cuff. What do I do?

  32. Just wanted to say "Thank You". I was told over a year ago that both my shoulders are a train wreck and we can do surgery whenever I'm ready. Thankfully I'm still able to so "Nope, not today".

  33. I've been battling this rotator cuff problem for a month now, I tried a variation side raises at the gym and ended up the following day with this nagging shoulder pain that just refuses to go away. I don't think it's torn cause it didn't hurt till the next day.
    I skipped gym for a week and it gradually got better, but after a few sessions at the gym it's got bad again.
    I'll try these exercises and just skip working out my shoulders altogether for about a month and see if it improves.

  34. Hi Dr Jo… I've been having rotator cuff pain off and on for a couple years..(military press machine) i get feeling better and I don't quite know what I do to re-injure it again. How long should I do the exercises before I do anything such as mowing, weed eating… even pushing grocery cart or vacuuming seems to cause me pain, so I think I am my worse enemy by rushing my healing. Any tips that I can use to let me know it's okay to move ahead with these activities? Thank you

  35. Thanks for these exercises, I have just started to do them. You say to hold for 30 seconds, but some of these exercises seem to be repetive, and not a hold. Exercises 3,4,5,6 and 8 seem like you should be repeating the motion and not a hold, or am I misunderstanding?

  36. Dr. My husband had injury 1 month ago. He thought it was a dislocatioin but it rotator cuff. Can he avoid surgery or can the exercises avoid it

  37. Hii, doctor Jo,my name is Jo too,I am having this pain for last 3 years,I don't know whether I need a surgery

  38. Thank you Dr. Jo. I have a question whats the difference when doing pendelums when moving your shoulder like Ive seen some videos and just moving your body like you showed in your video?

  39. Hello joe, why have you got to move your body with the first exercise is there any reason for it. thanks

  40. Very instructive video! Are these stretches also good for shoulder impingement along with the specific exercises you gave in the specific video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PP9wnU82lY4)?

  41. You are terrific. These stretches have restored both rotator cuff tear and frozen shoulder to a less painful, more range-of-motion. There are so many 'doctors' with so many different techniques. I tried physical therapy and boy, they think Hercules is their patient. Even my orthopedist thought I should use dumbbells. It seemed wrong, wrong, wrong. How can you actively engage sprains and tears with active exercises. It seems like 'duh' not to push so hard already injured joints and muscles.
    I do your exercises with a cane, climb the walls(not using the bulbous activity ball) and I am almost pain free.
    A plus is your demeanor, your personality, the ease you can communicate.
    Wish you were my doctor.
    Thx
    Robert

  42. Purchase a printable worksheet featuring the rotator cuff stretches in this video here: https://www.askdoctorjo.com/purchase-rotator-cuff-stretches-worksheet

  43. You're the best. I perform all 10 exercises and definitely felt the stretch. I will continue to do the exercise on a daily basis.

  44. Thank you for this video! All work for me except the corner stretch, I live in a round yurt 🙂 no corners at all! I have no insurance and I have been up for many nights in pain, SO much worse when lying down.

  45. I have a rotator cuff tear it's been almost 5 weeks.. Although I don't have much pain but still whenever I lift my arms I have slight pain on my shoulders.. Do I have to undergo a surgery or should follow this exercises everyday? How many days does it take for me to heal completely?

  46. Hello, my name is Heron Patel, and I live in Orlando, FL. I have watched and applied your YouTube video “shoulder rotator cuff – Stretches “ to my physical therapy routine. You have really helped me, torn rotator cuff . I can’t thank you enough . God bless.

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