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Download a printable pdf file of this self-care technique here: Rotator Cuff Exercise
Rotator cuff pain, impingement problems with the shoulder.
Stop if there is any pain, as this exercise should be pain free. Press into the wall only with your elbows and forearms. Your head and neck should be relaxed.
Stand in a lunge position and lean into a wall with your forearms forming two sides of a triangle. Go down as low as you can on the wall, then lunge so that you press into the wall with your forearms for 30 seconds.
This exercise pushes the head of the humerus down, relieving impingement problems, and it gets the subscapularis muscle to take over some of the work of the supraspinatus muscle, giving relief for rotator cuff pain.
Triangular Forearm Support Technique
I recently worked with a 75 year old woman with a rotator cuff tear. Her MRI showed a complete rupture of the supraspinatus (grade 3 strain).
I had her do a technique developed by Loren Fishman, M.D. and after the first session she was able to bring her hand up overhead to brush her hair. She had not been able to do that before.
Dr. Fishman discovered this technique when doing yoga and experiencing relief of his own rotator cuff pain. He used it on 723 patients over a 10 year period, and 680 of those patients reported nearly complete pain relief and essentially full recovery of range of motion.
The technique is based on a headstand in yoga and is called the Triangular Forearm Support. Obviously my 75 year old client could not do a headstand, but fortunately we were able to do a variation on this technique that involved standing and pressing into a wall.
It is speculated that this technique trains the subscapularis to take over for the injured supraspinatus. I wonder though if the main effect is from the humerus being pressed in an inferior direction in the joint capsule, giving more room in the subacromial space, relieving any impingement symptoms.
One of the functions of the rotator cuff muscles and the long head of the biceps is to pull the head of the humerus down from the acromion process, to prevent impingement. Strengthening the subscapularis, infraspinatus and teres minor can help with this function.