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Rotator Cuff: Understanding and Strengthening

Rotator Cuff: Understanding And Strengthening

What is the Rotator Cuff?

A rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscles that make up the deepest layer of muscles inside the shoulder joint. It is made up of the subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and the teres minor.

Why are the rotator cuff muscles important?

The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint and is the most mobile joint within the human body as it is able to perform large ranges of motion in multiple directions. As a result, it requires a lot of stability to ensure that the ball stays within the center of the socket during these movements. This is where the rotator cuff comes into play. Aside from each of the rotator cuff‘s individual actions, the 4 muscles work together to stabilize the joint. If there is an imbalance and/or weakness within the rotator cuff, it can jeopardize the stability of the shoulder and place increased strain on other structures surrounding the shoulder including the labrum, joint capsule, ligaments, tendons, and other muscle groups, resulting in a variety of injuries. To ensure that your shoulder stays healthy and pain-free, be sure to incorporate rotator cuff exercises within your normal workout routine!

How do you strengthen the Rotator Cuff?

Aside from the rotator cuff‘s main function, which is to stabilize the ball and socket joint of our shoulder, it is important to know that each individual rotator cuff muscle has its own unique function. It is also important to know what that function is so that we can strengthen that muscle accordingly.

Subscapularis:

Aside from stabilizing the front of the shoulder joint, this muscle also contributes to internal rotation of the shoulder or twisting of the arm inward towards the midline of your body.
To strengthen this muscle, bend your elbow to 90 degrees and position it firmly against your side. Attach a resistance band to a firm object such as a closed doorknob and, while holding the opposite end of the band, have it pull away from the midline of your body. Then pull the band towards midline while keeping the elbow tucked by your side. Repeat this motion for 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Supraspinatus:

Aside from stabilizing the top of the shoulder joint, this muscle also contributes to a small portion of abduction or raising the arm away from the midline of the body.
To strengthen this muscle, start with your arm straight by your side. Hold a resistance band in your hand with the opposite end underneath your foot on the same side. You can also you a lightweight dumbbell. Then raise your arm up and out to the side with a slight forward angle in order to specifically target the supraspinatus. Once you reach 90 degrees of elevation, slowly bring your arm back down to the side and relax. Repeat this motion for 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Infraspinatus & Teres Minor:

Aside from stabilizing the back of the shoulder joint, these 2 muscles also contribute to external rotation of the shoulder or twisting of the arm outward away from the midline of your body.
To strengthen these muscles, bend your elbow to 90 degrees and position it firmly against your side. Attach a resistance band to a firm object such as a closed doorknob and, while holding the opposite end of the band, have it pull toward the midline of your body. Then pull the band outward while keeping the elbow tucked by your side. Repeat this motion for 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Garrick Lim

Garrick believes that a whole body, hands-on approach is the best way to treat orthopedic and sports injuries because it allows his patients to gain a better understanding of their bodies and to take appropriate measures to ensure they remain pain/injury-free.

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