January 21, 2020
Rotator Cuff Pain Relief Exercises – Shoulder Pain

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably experienced shoulder pain or know someone who has. The most common injuries people suffer from are at the joints: knees, hips, and shoulders. Why? Because these are the places where our bodies have the widest range of motion and the most tendons, nerves, bones and ligaments connecting together. Thus, joints are like traffic intersections in a big city.

They’ve got many ways to turn and many avenues for collision. Plus, the shoulder is the most flexible and complex of all! For most adults, it’s not a matter of if, but when you’ll have shoulder pain or injury.

Impact of Shoulder Pain on Exercise

Now, I don’t want this to stop you from training your shoulders. Pain and injury are the number one reason people quit their exercise programs early and lose progress. But, it doesn’t have to stop you.

In fact, research has shown – and I’ve seen time and time again- that many injuries are best recovered through movement. An injury is just an opportunity to learn something. It simply means we need to look at the way we train a little differently.

We need to focus on strengthening and gaining better movement control of our weak spots. We need to slow down and refocus. Fortunately, most shoulder pain and injuries are just as fix-able as they are common.

The Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff is a crucial group of muscles and tendons that play a pivotal role in stabilizing the shoulder joint and facilitating arm movement. Injuries to the rotator cuff are common and can result in pain, weakness, and a reduced range of motion. Fortunately, a carefully designed exercise program can help alleviate symptoms, strengthen the affected muscles, and improve overall shoulder function.

Shoulder Pain Due to Rotator Cuff Injuries

Rotator cuff injuries can occur due to repetitive overhead motions, traumatic incidents, or age-related wear and tear. To mitigate pain and swelling immediately after an injury, the “RICE” method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is recommended. However, for long-term relief and rehabilitation, incorporating specific exercises is crucial.

Rotator Cuff Pain Relief Exercises to Strengthen Rotator Cuffs and Shoulder Stabilizers

In this article, I’ll go over two exercises that you can start doing right away to strengthen your shoulder cuff and scapular retractors. You can also use these exercises to train a shoulder that is currently in pain (so long as your doctor has approved you for training).

The cuff and scapular retractor muscles stabilize your shoulder in big movements like the bench press and chin up. Strengthening them will help you progress your training more effectively. Ideally, do these exercises 2 to 4 times per week, for 10 to 12 reps each arm.

You’ll want to use light weights (2 to 10 lbs). The shoulder cuff is made of small stabilizer muscles that are best trained through many repetitions at a high frequency and controlled tempo, rather than heavy and fast. I’ll describe how you can count tempo to get the most out of each exercise in the videos that follow.

The key is to go slowly during the lowering phase of the movement, so that you are strengthening the slow-twitch fibers of your posterior chain. Take 3 to 4 seconds on the way down.

THE SHOULDER EXTERNAL ROTATION to Strengthen Shoulder Rotator Cuff

This exercise strengthens the rotator cuff muscles, such as the supraspinatus (a common site of injury). You can do this movement side-lying or standing. To create balance, you’ll want to train your shoulder in a variety of positions and angles, but be sure to only train one movement at a time before moving on to the next.

Key Notes for Shoulder External Rotation

  • Keep your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle
  • Keep your elbow in line with your body
  • Don’t let your shoulder “dump forward”
  • Keep your wrist neutral
  • Maintain a smooth controlled motion (no “jerking” or “forcing” the movement)


This exercise strengthens the lower traps and trains coordination of the scapular retractors. These muscles help pull your shoulders down and back and point your chest up for good posture. If you have forward rounded shoulders, this will help pull them back up.

Key Notes for Trap 3 Raise

  • Rest your head on your opposite arm and keep a straight spine
  • Retract your scapula so the weight moves vertically before you start each rep
  • Lift up and out as if you’re passing the weight to someone in front of you
  • Again, no forcing or jerking. Keep the movement smooth.

Shoulder pain and injuries are inevitable in your fitness journey. By incorporating targeted exercises and maintaining proper form, you can strengthen your shoulder stabilizers, alleviate pain, and improve overall shoulder health. Embrace these movements as opportunities for learning and growth in your fitness journey.

Should I exercise my rotator cuff if it hurts?

Exercising your rotator cuff can be beneficial even if it currently hurts. Research indicates that movement can aid in the recovery process of shoulder injuries. However, it is crucial to proceed with caution and only engage in exercises if your doctor has approved you for training.

Consider incorporating targeted exercises, such as the Shoulder External Rotation and Trap 3 Raise mentioned in the article, to strengthen your rotator cuff and promote better movement control. Always prioritize proper form, use light weights, and consult with a personal trainer or healthcare professional for personalized advice.

How do I get my rotator cuff to stop hurting?

To alleviate rotator cuff pain, consider incorporating specific exercises to strengthen the shoulder stabilizers. The Shoulder External Rotation and Trap 3 Raise exercises provided in the article can be effective in addressing rotator cuff issues.

Focus on controlled tempo during exercises, taking 3 to 4 seconds on the lowering phase to strengthen the slow-twitch fibers. It’s essential to consult with a specialized personal trainer or healthcare professional  for a comprehensive assessment and personalized recommendations.

If pain persists, seek professional guidance to identify the root cause and develop a targeted treatment plan tailored to your specific condition.

Thanks for reading! If you found this article valuable please share on social media, or with someone you know who wants to have happier shoulders or who would enjoy the read. You can help your friends and family feel good and get stronger just like you. If you want to connect or are wondering about how Beometry trainers can help you take your health and fitness to the next level, get a hold of our fitness trainers and we’ll be glad to be part of your transformation journey! ~ Coach Michelle

Other Pain Relief Solutions

  • Matt W. When I decided to join the infantry to increase my qualifications to reach my goal of being in law enforcement I knew I ...
    Read More
  • Beth I have a lot of motivation for being healthy. With my wedding coming up and turning 45, I realized it was time to focus ...
    Read More
  • Brian R. Since turning 40 I noticed a big change in my body. Not only in my aches, pains, energy level and flexibility but the ph...
    Read More
Contact us
find us

6409 6th Ave #6 Tacoma, WA 98406 253.227.5483

follow us