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Arm Yourself Against Injury

A torn rotator cuff can mean searing pain, slow healing, and even surgery. But yoga can strengthen your shoulders and help prevent problems.

By Julie Gudmestad


To maintain the health of your rotator cuff, it's important not only to strengthen the muscles but to work on opening the chest. When the chest drops instead of opening and the fronts of the shoulders roll forward and down, your shoulder blades tip forward, which facilitates pinching between the head of the humerus and the acromion. In this position, the rotator cuff is more likely to be impinged on and strained, eventually becoming inflamed and more vulnerable to tears.

As you can see from the wide range of postures that benefit the rotator cuff, perhaps the best yoga prescription for rotator cuff health is to maintain a well-rounded asana practice. Practiced regularly, a variety of standing poses, chest openers, arm balances, and inversions can help you protect this complex and crucial part of your anatomy.

A licensed physical therapist and certified Iyengar Yoga teacher, Julie Gudmestad runs a private physical therapy practice and yoga studio in Portland, Oregon. She regrets that she cannot respond to correspondence or calls requesting personal health advice.


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Reader Comments

Niick Outlaw

I have found that externallly rotating my hands, turning my palms up, in most poses such as Warrior I and chair pose alleviates all of my shoulder discomfort.
CPT Nick Outlaw
Fitness Pro. @ www.raleighpersonaltrainer.org

Niick Outlaw

I have found that externallly rotating my hands, turning my palms up, in most poses such as Warrior I and chair pose alleviates all of my shoulder discomfort.
CPT Nick Outlaw
Fitness Pro. @ www.raleighpersonaltrainer.com

Kirsty Taylor

Amazing article. I bought 2 yoga dvds the other day and the plan is to start tomorrow. I thought I would have a little look to see how it is and came across this article. I have suffered for 3 years due to injuries to my rotator cuffs and only recently bgan the right treatment method for it. Now your article has made me much more keen on yoga as a whole I really hope I can enjoy it as I think it could really help me to regain the strengh I need as I am only 20 and don't want to suffer all my life. Thank-you for a possibly life changing article :-)

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