The best way to prevent rotator cuff problems is to strengthen the muscles.

This is particularly important for athletes and weightlifters, who generally tend to focus on the major muscle groups and neglect “little” things like rotator cuff health, joint health, and overall mobility.

For example, many weightlifting programs involve a lot more bench and overhead pressing than pulling.

This causes an imbalance between the anterior muscles of the chest and shoulders and the posterior muscles of the back, which can cause bad posture and increase the risk of a rotator cuff injury.

If you’re following a well-designed program that involves a good amount of both pushing and pulling, however, that’s a good start.

Certain compound movements like the bench press, overhead press, and deadlift involve the rotator cuff muscles, there are several other exercises you can do to isolate them.

Whether you should do these exercises depends on your circumstances.

Personally, I started running into rotator cuff tightness on my right side after bench and overhead pressing significant (for me) amounts of weight for about a year (about 275+ pounds on the bench press and 205+ pounds on the military press).

The rotator cuff exercises I give below have helped eliminate the problem (along with some rather painful myofascial release work) but I may have been able to prevent it altogether if I would have started earlier.

The 4 Best Rotator Cuff Exercises

External Rotation

If you place your arm at your side, raise your forearm until it’s at a 90-degree angle to your upper arm, and rotate your hand away from your body, that’s external rotation.

Internal Rotation

As you’ve probably guessed, internal rotation is the opposite of external rotation and involves rotating the hand toward the body.

Remember that these distinctions also apply to shoulder rotation when the elbow is raised:

Scaption (Scapular Plane Elevation)

Scaption is a movement that’s in between a lateral and front raise.

Face Pull

The Face Pull isn’t an exercise you see many people doing but it’s one of my favorites for training both the rotator cuff muscles and rear deltoids.

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