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A therapist massages a patient's shoulder.

Nagging Shoulder Pain?


Dr. John De Noyelles, PT, OCS, CSCS

If you have undergone previous therapy for shoulder pain then this exercise may look familiar:

If it looks familiar and you still have a painful shoulder, then maybe this exercise was not the most effective or appropriate. This exercise is one of several cookie-cutter activities for the rotator cuff. It is a standard go-to in the majority of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy clinics and proclaimed “cure” when searching for self-help for shoulder pain on the Internet.

More often than not, I find that these exercises do not help and may even increase pain. For most, the rotator cuff is already on fire and overworked. Trying to strengthen muscles that are working over-time is not the best method. Instead, addressing other limitations (such shoulder or spine mobility, for example) is a great first step.

Rotator cuff exercises are not necessarily “bad.” They may be appropriate with decreased pain AND strength. If I use them (which is rare), I like to customize and have my patients perform them in more functional patterns that mimic daily activities required of that patient.

The bottom line: there is so much more that can be done, with either exercise or manual therapy, which may better address your shoulder pain.

Dr. John De Noyelles, PT, OCS, CSCS


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