Effective Hydrotherapy Exercises for Rotator Cuff Repair

Most injuries must heal completely before returning to a work-out routine, compete in a game, or resume normal use. But letting injuries heal often means inactivity. So what do you do to stay in peak performance shape during recovery? Hydrotherapy treatments, such as rotator cuff exercises, keep you conditioned so you’re ready to play as soon as you’re healed.

Anterior shoulder dislocation is a common injury, especially for athletes and active individuals. The properties of water are the key reason why you can exercise as you heal. Water’s buoyancy creates a non-weight bearing environment to exercise with less stress on joints and muscles. In addition, hydrostatic pressure supports muscles during exercise.

rotator cuff repair

Hydrotherapy is a low impact tool that yields high impact results with limited joint stress and muscle fatigue. Water provides a safe and supportive environment for intense workouts or rehabilitation without risking injury. In addition, once an injury occurs, treatment plans can be implemented in the pool sooner than on land for earlier intervention.

This rotator cuff treatment plan includes a step-by-step hydrotherapy progression with exercises from initial evaluation through 26 weeks post-op. Exercises include pendulums, walkaways, scapular retraction, and more. The goal is to use the benefits of aquatic therapy to heal, stay conditioned, and then transition to land-based treatments.

This protocol was written by senior physical therapist, Jaeson Kawadler DPT, CSCS.

Rotator cuff repair protocol infographic (PDF, 287KB)

Always consult a medical health professional before performing any of these interventions.

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