The rotator cuff has many functions. The muscles do the following:
- center the upper arm bone in the socket of the shoulder joint and hold it there
- power arm and shoulder movements
The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body. It is possible to misuse or overuse the joint, which makes it very easy to injure the rotator cuff and other parts of the shoulder.
People can help prevent injuries by doing exercises to keep the rotator cuff muscles strong and flexible.
Rotator cuff injuries
Most rotator cuff injuries are overuse injuries from repetitive overhead motions.
People who are prone to rotator cuff injuries include athletes who play baseball or tennis and people with jobs, such as house painting or construction, that require repetitive overhead motions.
Rotator cuff overuse often leads to rotator cuff impingement, which is the pinching of one of the rotator cuff tendons, or other soft tissue, that runs through the space between the upper arm bone, or humerus, and the shoulder blade, or scapula.
Impingement can occur when muscle strain and other overuse injuries cause swelling in the shoulder joint, decreasing the space between these bones.
People may sometimes tear one of the tendons or muscles in the rotator cuff, although this is less common than overuse injuries. Rotator cuff tears may be very painful, but most of the time, they will heal with rest and strengthening exercises.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, following a conditioning program helps a person return to daily activities in addition to any sports and other recreational activities that they were participating in before the injury.
The crossover arm stretch involves the steps below:
To do a lawnmower pull, a person should:
People who experience any of the following symptoms in the shoulder should make an appointment to see a doctor as they may have a rotator cuff injury:
- pain, especially pain that does not improve with rest
- redness or tenderness around the joint
For more severe rotator cuff injuries, a person may need emergency medical attention.
It is essential to seek immediate medical care if any of the following symptoms occur:
- sudden, severe pain
- visible joint deformity
- inability to use the shoulder joint
- sudden swelling
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles in the shoulder. As the shoulder joint is so mobile and people use it so frequently, it is very easy to injure the rotator cuff.
People who find themselves with rotator cuff injuries or pain may want to use the simple exercises above to strengthen this part of the body and increase its flexibility.
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