Get to know your rotator cuff

You would have almost certainly heard the term rotator cuff before when talking about shoulders but what exactly is it? What makes up the rotator cuff?

The aim of this blog is to help you better understand what makes up your rotator cuff and each muscle’s role in contributing the large range of motion we have in our shoulder. As a team, the primary role of the rotator cuff muscles is to stabilise the head of the humerus (your upper arm bone) in the glenoid (your shoulder socket) during movement. There are 4 members of the rotator cuff team (some would argue 5 but we’ll keep it simple today), they are the Supraspinatus, Subscapularis, Infraspinatus and Teres Minor. Let’s briefly discuss each muscle’s job. 

Firstly, we have the Supraspinatus, the Supraspinatus’ primary role is to abduct the arm (take the arm away from the body) particularly in the initial stages of the movement! Secondly, the Subscapularis which medially rotates the arm (think the rotation of your arm to rub your stomach). Thirdly and fourthly, the Infraspinatus and Teres Minor are both external rotators of the shoulder (rotate away from the body) with the key difference being Teres Minor being active while the shoulder is abducted 90 degrees (arm at shoulder height, think of throwing a ball).

How are we going? Making sense so far?  Below is a handy little graphic to help you understand these directions of movement a little more!

If you’ve decided to read this blog, more than likely you’ve experienced, or currently experiencing shoulder pain. Shoulder pain is extremely common affecting 66% of people at some point in their life causing impairment in function at work and also in impacting on recreational activities such as swimming and tennis.

The good news is that most shoulder pain can be extremely well managed with Physiotherapy and exercise, even if you’ve had a scan that has shown a rotator cuff tear! While the rotator cuff is important, there are still a whopping 26 other muscles that contribute to shoulder movement! So while you may have damage to one muscle of the rotator cuff, there are many other muscles that can be strengthened to improve your level of function!

If you’ve been told you’ve got a damaged rotator cuff, have shoulder impingement, bursitis or are experiencing shoulder pain that is preventing you from doing things you enjoy, why don’t you give us a call today on 8682 6665!

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