Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble who has been calling it the rotator cup for years. This group of muscles is definitely the rotator cuff.
What is the rotator cuff? It is a group of four muscles that arises from your shoulder blade and attaches at the shoulder joint.
What does it do? The rotator cuff helps to stabilize the shoulder joint. The shoulder is a lot like a golf ball sitting on a tee. These muscles help to raise your arm. After about 30 degrees of elevation, the rotator cuff contracts and compresses the golf ball against the tee. As you continue to raise your arm past 90 degrees, the rotator cuff continues to hold the golf ball in place, but also helps to depress it downwards. This helps to avoid pinching any soft tissue against bone in the shoulder.
Rotator cuff tears can be very painful and occur as early on as in your 20’s, but most common in your 50’s and 60’s. Generally small tears can occur in your earlier years that will progress over time through wear and tear. Most often repetitive motion, combined with poor posture contributes to tearing. Traumatic falls can cause small to large rotator cuff tears. Men in their 30’s and women in their 40’s start having a reduced blood supply to this crucial tissue, decreasing every decade of life. This loss of blood flow, reduces your body’s ability to repair itself.
Is surgery my only option for a rotator cuff tear? No, however there are many different types of tears and severity of tears. Small tears often will heal a certain amount. Many of you may have a tear and not even know it. A cortisone shot administered can help reduce inflammation, decrease pain and allow your body to better heal itself. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injections are gaining popularity and showing some promising results. Physical therapy can also help reduce pain, restore range of motion, improve strength and eventually improve function.
Who should exercise their rotator cuff? Just about everyone. Specific exercises help to bring blood and nutrients to these crucial muscles. Overhead athletes definitely want to work in this group. If your posture isn’t the best, you want to address these muscles. If you are a weightlifter, you definitely want to incorporate rotator cuff strengthening exercises. Contractors, accountants, nurses, teachers, and pretty much everyone should, if you want to have good shoulder health.
If you have any questions about the rotator cuff or are having shoulder issues, please give us a call.