Note: people can read part I of this series HERE

Strengthening the Rotator Cuff

First and foremost, proper technique is more important than weight. Starting out, use very little to no weight. I find that 3-5 lb wrist weights or dumbbells are enough.   These muscles are small; therefore, the goal is not to make them bulky by lifting heavy weight, but instead to concentrate on proper form to strengthen them.  Use your best judgment when choosing how much weight to utilize.

Depending on the condition of the patient, it is recommended that they perform these for 3 sets of 10, and build up to 3 sets of 25, then add resistance.  Results will vary depending on the severity of the condition and daily physical activity.

External Rotation:

This can be performed standing using thera-band or side lying with dumbbells.  Start by flexing the forearm to 90° with the elbow firmly on your side, then rotate your hand away from your body.

Start                                Finish

Internal Rotation:

Can be performed standing using thera-band, or side lying with dumbbells.  Same starting position as the external rotation, but rotate your hand towards your body.

Start                               Finish

Scapular Raise (Ceiling Punch):

Start by lying on your back, making sure that the scapula is flat. Raise your hand toward the ceiling while keeping your back, especially your thoracic spine, flat.  This movement can be performed bilaterally at the same time.

Start                                            Finish

Side Lying Lateral Raise (Abduction)for the purpose of strengthening the supraspinatus, only raise the arm to be parallel to the ground.

Start                                                                      Finish

Field Goal or The “Y”:

Start by lying face down, making sure that your arms are straight and resting comfortably on a perpendicular position to the ground.

Raise your arms to look like a “Y”, while trying to squeeze the scapula together. Hold for 3-5 seconds. Do not reach over the level of your head.  Relax your neck and avoid shrugging your shoulders or arching your spine.

This movement can also be performed on an inclined bench or a swiss ball.

Start                                                          Finish

The “T”:

Same starting position as the “Y”, lift your arms to the sides to your body, squeezing the scapula together.  This can also be performed on an inclined bench or a swiss ball.

Start                                                     Finish

The “W”:

Starting position looks exactly like the Field Goal / “Y” finish position. Bring the elbows to your sides. You should feel an increase in posterior muscle contractions with this movement.  Because of the similarities in the positions, I’ll have patients transition from end position of “Y” straight into “W”.

Start                                               Finish

Results may be different for each individual.  Various factors can contribute to the shoulder pain, so make sure to see your health care specialist to get a proper assessment if your condition is not progressing.


Dr. Chiang, DC, CCSP received his Doctorate of Chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida.  While at school, he was an active member of the Sports Chiropractic Council.  He also participated in Clinic Aboard where he and a group of future chiropractors went to Morocco and provided chiropractic care to the underprivileged and the underserved.

Dr. Chiang has a strong interest and knowledge base in athletic and overuse injuries, and enjoys taking on challenging cases. He believes in a well-rounded, evidence-base, patient-centered approach to care and utilizes an array of techniques, including: chiropractic adjustments, soft-tissue/myofascial mobilization, exercise, education, nutritional, and lifestyle modifications. Some of the soft tissue therapies include Active Release Techniques, Gua Sha, Kinesio-Tape, and Graston Technique. Furthermore, he constantly strives to better serve his patients by increasing his knowledge base through continuing education courses, workshops and conferences.  Dr. Peter is a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP), which focuses on working with athletes and sports rehabilitation.

Dr. Chiang enjoys treating patients of all ages for various neuro-musculoskeletal conditions ranging from acute injuries, to repetitive strain injuries, to supportive and wellness care. He owns and runs North Eastern Chiropractic in Framingham MA with his wife. He can be contact via his web site: North Eastern Chiropractic

  1. kevin 12 years ago

    Hi Will, thanks for the shoulder series. I appreciate the photos especially.

    • Will Brink 12 years ago

      Those are pics of the author, Dr Chiang BTW, Hope the info helps 🙂

  2. Jaime Caparo 12 years ago

    Mr brinks i wanna know 2things:
    1) with the workouts you have in your book bodybuilding revealed can i made my self a great body and strenght?ni dont have money to go any gym or buy dumbells but my wife give for christmas a 315 lbs resistance bands kit. With that can i buil such body?
    2) what is your opinion about crossfit? It works or is better mr charles pliquin workouts. For strenght
    Thank you very mucj

    • Will Brink 12 years ago

      Cross fit is geared toward overall conditioning vs. muscle mass and strength. Anything by Charles will be superior.

  3. Sean 12 years ago

    I have recently had an MRI on my shoulder after having sustained an injury about 9 months ago, my specialist has refered me to see a surgeon early next month for a reconstruction.
    I am very hesitant to have a reconstruction as it means no gym for at least 4 months then rehab time to get back to my current status quo (plus i have a low pain threshold)
    Prior to the accident i used to dumbell press 40kg’s for 3 x 10-12 reps whereas now 10kg dumbells hurt to push because of the nagging impingement of the joint, my question to you or anybody that may be able to offer assistance is after a recon will my shoulder be as structually strong as it was prior to the accident or will it just alleviate the agravation effect that it currently causes.
    I am 42 this year and wonder if it is time to forget being big and strong and maybe settle for being more satisfied with average as this issue has made my training hard and i have certainly lost a lot of very hard earned muscle and gained fat during this period (my own fault I know)
    Your comments would be appreciated

    • Will Brink 12 years ago

      Best person to ask about what type of performance you can expect after reconstruction is the doc/specialist you are working with. The nature of the injury, type of surgery, etc, are all variables I can’t answer. If it’s in need of full reconstruction, my guess is it will be better then what you have now, but possibly not as strong pre injury, but that’s a total guess on my part from the limited info here. Good luck.

  4. Sylvain 11 years ago

    Hi Will, thanks for the great information. I have one question. I have Calcific Tendonidis in my right shoulder. My doctor says with proper exercise this can be fixed easily. Would these exercise help in rectifiying this Calcific Tendonidis? Thanks for the great information you provide us all with.

    • Will Brink 11 years ago

      I don’t know enough about your condition to comment. I’d recommend you follow your doctors and advice, and see what the results are.

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