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  • Writer's pictureThe Health Lab

What in the world is a Rotator Cuff?

Of all the joints in the body, the shoulder joint is one of the most complex and versatile. This joint allows for a wide range of motion, which makes it possible to perform a variety of activities such as lifting, reaching, and throwing. However, this mobility also makes the shoulder joint susceptible to injury, particularly in the rotator cuff.


The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, providing support and stability. The rotator cuff consists of four muscles: the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. These muscles work together to help lift and rotate the arm, and they are also responsible for keeping the ball and socket joint of the shoulder stable.


The arm bone is actually 3 times bigger than the shoulder blade bone. The arm bone side is round and the shoulder blade bone side is flat. Thing of this as a golf ball on a tee at the driving range. One of the rolls of the rotator cuff is to contract and suck the arm bone against the shoulder blade bone while at rest and when the arm is moving.


Injury to the rotator cuff can cause pain, weakness, and limited mobility in the shoulder. Rotator cuff injuries can occur as a result of trauma, overuse, or degeneration of the tendons over time. People who engage in activities that require repetitive overhead motions, such as painters or athletes who throw a ball, are at increased risk for rotator cuff injuries. Usually it's less about the activities and more about the compensations or strength issues that result from these activities.


There are several different types of rotator cuff injuries, including tendonitis, bursitis, partial tears, and full-thickness tears. Tendonitis and bursitis are caused by inflammation in the tendons or bursae (small fluid-filled sacs) around the shoulder joint. Partial tears occur when one or more of the tendons in the rotator cuff are damaged but not completely torn. Full-thickness tears occur when one or more of the tendons in the rotator cuff are completely torn. Amazing enough we see rotator cuff tears in the majority of the population without any shoulder pain or limitations. A tear alone is not a direct reason for someone to have pain at all. Therefore, if you have shoulder pain with a tear, we shouldn't assume this is the reason for your limitations.


Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury include pain in the shoulder, weakness, and limited mobility. In some cases, people may also experience clicking or popping sensations in the shoulder joint. Treatment for rotator cuff injuries depends a number of factors but the biggest predictor of success is what you desire to do. People who are more prone to believe the need surgery tend to have surgery. This is why its so important to get the right information from the right person to avoid unnecessary treatments.


Preventing rotator cuff injuries involves taking steps to maintain shoulder health. This includes building strength of the system with lifting and full use of the shoulders motion often throughout the week. Strengthening the muscles around the shoulder joint can also help prevent injury. Another interesting fact is that grip strength is directly related to rotator cuff health, so keep picking up heavy things and making the system strong together.


Too often we see people being given fear avoidance education about the fragility of the shoulder which increases the likelihood of injury. Rest and avoidance rarely lead to long term success, and the professions you interactive with can significantly affect your believes about your bodies abilities. If your looking for someone to support your progress of a better, stronger, more robust system then come try a free discovery visit at The Health Lab.


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