As sports fans and athletes alike know, shoulder injuries are serious business. They can be extremely painful, limiting, and slow to heal.
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that stabilize the shoulder and allow it to move. Physical therapist and founder of WebPT Heidi Jannenga says you should visualize the head of the arm bone as a golf ball, and the area of the shoulder blade as a golf tee. She says, “The rotator cuff serves as a sleeve that enables the ball to spin and roll while remaining on the tee.”
The most common rotator cuff injuries are impingements and tears.
- Impingement: An impingement occurs when a rotator cuff muscle swells and cramps the space between the arm and shoulder bones, causing pinching. Muscle strain, other overuse injuries, and bone spurs are common causes of swelling.
- Tear: A less common injury, a rotator cuff tear occurs when a rotator cuff tendon or muscle is torn. Most tears will not require surgery.
Repetitive, overhead motions can wear down the rotator cuff muscles and are thus a common cause of injury. This is why athletes such as baseball pitchers frequently have shoulder issues. A traumatic injury, such as falling onto your arm, can also cause injury. Regardless of how it happens, the risk of a rotator cuff tear increases as we age and the wear on our bodies accumulates.
Below are some example exercises for strengthening the rotator cuff muscles. IF you have intense pain or discomfort performing any of the stretches below please refrain from doing. As with any new exercise program, please consult your physician or health care provider before beginning.
While these exercises can help build strength after a minor injury, a major or recurring injury requires more attention. Consult a doctor if you experience:
- pain or a deep ache
- difficulty raising your arm
- difficulty sleeping on your arm more than a few days after your injury
These are symptoms of a more severe injury. https://www.healthline.com/health/rotator-cuff-injury-stretches
For more specific exercises and programming, please consider a phone call with us to see if we can better help your goals!