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Massage Today
August, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 08

The Forgotten Rotator Cuff Muscle, Part 4

By Ben Benjamin, PhD

With this article on exercise rehabilitation, I will end the series on injuries to the teres minor. Since the teres minor and infraspinatus muscles perform some of the same actions, the first strengthening exercise is the same for both.

As soon as the client can perform the motion described in exercise #1 using one pound without pain or discomfort, they can begin doing the exercise daily. This usually occurs after several treatments. Show the client the exercise and then check that they are doing it correctly when they come for the next session.

Exercise #1

Lie on your side with the injured side up and allow the injured arm to hang down. Grasp a one to three-pound weight, keeping the elbow and upper arm close to your body. Now lift your hand, rotating your arm toward the ceiling until it is at a 180-degree angle to your body. Perform three sets of 10 of this exercise resting momentarily between each set. If there is pain during the exercise, stop. There should be a sense of fatigue near the end of the third set. If fatigue sets in sooner, do less repetitions.

rotator cuff - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark After the client has been conscientiously doing exercise #1 for a week or two, add exercise #2.

Exercise #2

For this second teres minor exercise, which combines lateral rotation with adduction, you will need a five or six inch ball or a rolled up bath towel, in addition to a light free weight.

Lie down on the good side with a pillow under the head. Place a soft five or six inch ball or rolled up towel in the axilla. Grasp a weight and bend the elbow of the injured shoulder at 90 degrees. The weight should be just in front of the navel. Now, slowly laterally rotate the shoulder (bringing the hand into the air), while simultaneously squeezing the ball or towel toward the ribs.

The client continues the exercises until they can perform three sets of 10 with six to 10 pounds without any fatigue. The maximum weight will depend on the size and strength of the person you're working with. In order to establish a benchmark, see how much weight the person can do with their good shoulder.

With these four articles you should be able to assess, treat and guide the client to a successful rehabilitation.

Click here for more information about Ben Benjamin, PhD.


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