Muscle Monday | The Rotator Cuffs

ROTATOR CUFF

At some point in your life you have or will experience some sort of shoulder pain. This pain is could be a result of a sport, lifting weights, rock climbing, swimming, or any daily physical activity. With shoulder pain being so common, it is of great importance to know your shoulders and what might be the cause of your pain.

In most cases, tears to the rotator cuff muscles are the culprit for shoulder pain. Every year, a reported 13 million Americans see physicians for shoulder pain, and 1 in 5 of these cases are due to a tear in the rotator cuffs. The truth is that there are a lot of factors that are at play when it comes to the shoulders, and more specifically, the rotator cuffs. Before we get into those factors, lets first take a closer look at the rotator cuffs.

WHAT IS THE ROTATOR CUFF?

The rotator cuff is a term used to describe the 4 shoulder muscles that help in the stabilization of the gleno-humeral joint. The muscles that make up the rotator cuff are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis.

Muscles of the Rotator Cuff

The Shoulder joint is a highly mobile joint. The wide range of movements at the shoulder joint is the greatest weakness of the shoulder. It is easy for the shoulder to get dislocated. This is where the rotator cuff comes in to play. The muscle that make up the rotator cuff are important for the stabilization of the scapula and the humerus. In other words, the rotator cuff keeps the scapula and humerus in place, preventing a dislocation. However, this is a highly neglected muscle group during most training plans.

If the Rotator Cuff is not functioning properly, the humerus can slide out of place and this can lead to strain on the on the front of the shoulder and impingements on the top. This in turn can lead to further tearing of the rotator cuff. Therefore, it is important to focus on improving the strength, flexibility, and stability of the rotator cuffs in your training program.

SO LETS TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT THE ANATOMY OF THE ROTATOR CUFFS:

  • The Infraspinatusis located just below the spine of the scapula, and this is the muscle responsible for external rotation and stability of the shoulder joint.
  • The Supraspinatusends at the top of the Humerus, and this is where we suspect impingement
  • The Teres Minor is located next to the infraspinatus and helps to externally rotate the arm when it is abducted to the side.
  • The Subscapularis is the only muscle of the rotator cuff the is responsible for internal rotation of the shoulder, and it is located inside the shoulder blade.

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON REASONS FOR ROTATOR CUFF TEARS?

RC injuries

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREVENT ROTATOR CUFF TEARS?

The true function of the rotator cuff muscles is to maintain stability of the shoulder joint. So if you want a well-rounded training plan that includes the rotator cuffs you will need more than just some internal and external rotation of the shoulders. You want to aim to improve the flexibility of the rotator cuffs through some simple exercises to stretch out the muscles of the shoulder joint. The following are 10 very effective exercises that work to stretch and improve the flexibility, strength, and stability for the rotator cuffs.

For Improving flexibility of the rotator cuffs:

  1. Doorway Stretch
  2. Sleeper Stretch
  3. Standing Wall Angels

For Improving Strength of the rotator cuffs:

  1. External Rotation at Neutral
  2. External Rotation at 90 Degree Abduction
  3. Wall Crawl with External Rotation

Complete Shoulder Girdle exercises (working on stability of the shoulder joint)

  1. Serratus Scoop
  2. Inverted Rows

Functional Training of the shoulders:

  1. KB Plank Drag
  2. Turkish Get Ups

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