Rotator Cuff Exercises
Article by Jess Clarey
Why are Rotator Cuff Exercises Important?
Many muscles are involved in shoulder movement and all work together, but strengthening the rotator cuff is especially important. Your rotator cuff is the main stabiliser of the shoulder joint.
If the ball of the upper arm is not kept centred, abnormal stress is placed on surrounding tissue and may cause gradual injury. Strengthening the rotator cuff helps prevents common rotator cuff injuries including tendonitis, rotator cuff tears, and shoulder impingement syndrome.
Age-related changes in rotator cuff tendons leave them less elastic and more susceptible to injury. There is also a gradual loss of muscle mass that occurs with ageing, which can be counteracted with strengthening exercises.
What are your Rotator Cuff Muscles?
The supraspinatus is located at the top of the shoulder and abducts the shoulder - it raises the upper arm and moves it away from the body.
The subscapularis is at the front of the shoulder - it internally rotates the shoulder.
The infraspinatus and teres minor are in the back of the shoulder - they externally rotate the shoulder.
Though each rotator cuff muscle moves the shoulder in a separate direction, though they all work together to stabilise the shoulder joint.
The long-head of biceps tendon that runs over the top of the humerus and connects at the top of the shoulder joint also helps stabilise the shoulder joint. Overloading the biceps by lifting something heavy may cause biceps tendonitis (also called shoulder tendonitis). Strengthening the biceps helps prevent injury.
Strengthening all the muscles of the rotator cuff is important but premature strengthening can delay healing and cause more pain. For specific advice regarding injury-appropriate rotator cuff strengthening, it is highly recommended that you consult the professional advice of an experienced shoulder physiotherapist.
Scapular Stabilisation Exercises
Rotator cuff exercises are rarely effective in isolation. You should have your scapular stability assessed and undertake scapular stabilisation exercises to address any deficiencies. Your scapulohumeral rhythm should also be assessed and corrective exercises prescribed. You should seek the professional advice of an experienced shoulder physiotherapist to have your shoulder accurately assessed and managed.
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