Rotator cuff exercise uses dumbbell

Dr. Levi Harrison demonstrates the rotator cuff exercise with dumbbell.
Dr. Levi Harrison demonstrates the rotator cuff exercise with dumbbell.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

If you’re a golfer, tennis player or even a stand-up paddleboarder, you need to work the rotator cuff muscles that run from chest to shoulder to prevent injury, which is common in people older than 40, says orthopedist and fitness trainer Levi Harrison, developer of “The Art of Fitness: Cardio Core Workout” DVD. Here’s a two-in-one exercise that builds strength in this often-overlooked area. Perform it three times a week for optimal results.

What it does

This weight-bearing movement strengthens the four muscle tendons that run from your scapula to your shoulder, governing your range of motion in that area.

What to do

Start out standing, grasping a dumbbell of 2 to 20 pounds in your left hand with your arm by your side. Raise your forearm to a 90-degree angle, with your left elbow held in at your side and the palm facing in. Slowly open the arm to the left as far as your range of motion allows, keeping the elbow tightly pinned to your side. Be controlled with the move, and don’t throw the weight. Return to the starting position. Do all repetitions on this side.


Next with the arm in the same 90-degree start position, bring the weight in to your waist, essentially reversing the previous move. Return to start and do all repetitions on this side.

Switch sides, performing the same two motions with your right arm.

How much

Do two sets of 10 repetitions on each side, working up to three sets of 15.