Written By: James Hayes
Chiropractor

Rotator cuff muscles are the stabilisers of the shoulder! The shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the human body. But it comes at a price; because of its high mobility it is susceptible to injury.
The shoulder is a “ball and socket joint” however the ball is considerably larger than the cavity it sits in, think of it as a golf ball sitting on a tee. You are now wondering how in the world does it stay in there and not continually pop out of the socket?

There are 2 main contributors:

  1. The glenoid labrum that increases the depth of the cavity for the ball to sit in
  2. Rotator cuff muscles!

What are the rotator cuff muscles?

The rotator cuff is comprised of 4 different muscles

  • Supraspinatus
  • Infraspinatus
  • Teres Minor
  • Subscapularis

All of these muscles have their own individual input to create movement of the shoulder however their primary function is to all work together in harmony to stabilise the shoulder. The mechanics of shoulder movement is very complex however to be able to move your shoulder throughout its full range of motion pain-free, relies heavily on the strength of the rotator cuff muscles to “control” the movement and keep it in the socket.

Without this control you are susceptible to a range of painful disorders such as:

  • Subacromial impingement
  • Tendonitis
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Bursitis
  • Labral Tears

Frequently a lot of people make the mistake of forgetting about these muscles when they go to the gym because they are more concerned about obtaining those cosmetic muscles.

Studies have shown that 68% of problems related to shoulder instability have rotator cuff problems. If you neglect these muscles you could be in for a rude awakening when you wont be able to workout, perform daily tasks with ease or play your favourite sport due to the pain.

Are you on a fast track to shoulder pain?

Predisposing factors for rotator cuff problems:

  • Do you have a slouched posture with your shoulders rolling forward?
  • Desk work
  • Lots of driving
  • Using the mouse a lot
  • Highly stressed (tightened shoulders)
  • History of shoulder trauma

Combine that with:

  • Pain with throwing or pushing actions
  • Pinching sensation at the front of the shoulder
  • Pain with lifting arms above head or to the side
  • An aching shoulder which may extend into the arm

If you do, you might be suffering from a shoulder issue involving the rotator cuff.

What can you do?

Commonly shoulder pain and/or instability is a result of muscle imbalances. Some muscles will be tight and some may be weak. It is important to identify what muscles you need to stretch and what to strengthen in order to get the best results. If you are unsure, please consult a professional, as they will identify what exercises you should be focusing on.

Once the muscle imbalances have been identified the solution is quiet simple… Stretch the tight muscles and strengthen the weaker ones. Also combine that with shoulder mobility exercises!

Dee Why Chiropractic Care’s advice

When doing rotator cuff strengthening exercises, try and use higher repetitions (15-20) at a longer duration (slow reps). Try and adopt a 4-second contraction and a slow 6-second controlled eccentric movement back to the starting position.

It is also important to do mid back extension exercises during the rehabilitation process as it plays a major role in the shoulder biomechanics.

We hope you found this information helpful and if you have any further questions regarding the rotator cuff or if you want to resolve any shoulder pain don’t hesitate to contact us.