The rotator cuff is formed of a group of four muscles: the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. These muscles are deep within the shoulder musculature and originate from either side of the shoulder blade and insert onto different parts of the humerus (arm bone). Their primary function as a group is to act to stabilize the humeral head from translating while you use your arm. The socket in which your humerus sits is naturally shallow to allow our arms to have so much mobility, so it is important that we have muscles to provide stability. It is particularly important in overhead sports where you are forced to generate lots of force at the shoulder in naturally unstable positions. Considering all the degrees of freedom at the shoulder combined with the forces that pass through it, it’s a wonder our shoulders can do half the things they do!
Rotator cuff injuries are one of the most common shoulder pathologies. It can occur for a number of reasons: overuse, scapular dyskinesis, and trauma to the shoulder to name a few. For these reasons, it’s important to have someone educated in addressing these different causes look at your shoulder and help your restore movement and function. In serious cases (tears), Physiotherapy has been shown to be effective in managing a subset of acute rotator cuff tears, before surgery is necessary.
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