By Tom Fontana, PT
As the Forsythia blooms it can only mean that Spring sports are in full swing (pun intended) for schools and club teams and adult participation isn’t far off.
For what we call “overhead athletes” (i.e., those that play softball/baseball, tennis, lacrosse) it is of the utmost importance to have a strong rotator cuff to keep you on the field/court and playing your best. While we often work those with injured cuffs with the arm down by the side to make sure there isn’t unwanted compression on injured tendons, for the healthy athlete there is the need to have the cuff strong and working properly at roughly 90 degrees of elevation while out to the side of the body. The following exercises will work the cuff in this position and, once you have gotten yourself used to this position (it’s been a LONG winter after all, even IF you were able to play your desired sport last Summer), you can then experiment with faster speeds, as you would use in your sport.
Secure a resistance band in a door slightly below your shoulder height. While facing the door and your arm 90 degrees out to the side allow your forearm to point toward the anchor. Pull on the band by moving your hand up and back, while leaving the upper arm in the same position (think of a spindle turning in place). Hold for a brief second and return. Repeat ten times and work up to 3 sets of 10.
Next, secure the band slightly above shoulder-height and face away from the door. With your arm again at 90 degrees out to the side, start with your hand pointing up toward the ceiling. Pull on the band by moving your hand forward and down, again allowing the upper arm to just spin in place. Perform similar repetitions and sets.