Your upper extremity is composed of your shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints. The shoulder joint is responsible for upper body movement and strength. The “big” muscles like the deltoid, trapezius, pectoralis, biceps, and triceps muscles make up most of your upper body strength. The smaller muscles in your shoulders also are important. They help with proper shoulder mechanics that prevent pain and problems. Some of these smaller muscles makeup your rotator cuff—a group of muscles that cover and hold the shoulder in place—and keep your shoulders “healthy.”

At a Communities in Motion event in San Diego led by orthopaedic surgeons, Drs. Elizabeth G. Matzkin and Dori Cage discussed the importance of strengthening the rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder, and demonstrated three simple exercises:

  1. Y’s. Anchor the resistance band under your foot while hold the other end in your hand. Slowly raise arms slightly in front of you with thumbs pointing up to form the letter “Y”. While you raise your arms, squeeze your shoulder blades together and maintain good posture. Do three sets of 10 repetitions total on each side.
  2. T’s. Anchor the resistance band under your foot while holding the other end in your hand. Slowly raise arms out to your side with thumbs pointing up to form the letter “T”. While you raise your arms, squeeze your shoulder blades together and maintain good posture. Do three sets of 10 repetitions total on each side.
  3. External rotational exercise. Hold the resistance band with your arms at your side. Pinch your shoulder blades together for good posture and pull resistance band away from body with both arms. Hold 5 seconds out, and 5 seconds coming back in. Do three sets of 10 repetitions total.

Are you ready to get started? Tips on starting an exercise program from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00416.

Download a printer-friendly version of the Communities in Motion workbook exercises.

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