Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Strengthening And Conditioning The Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff needs to be carefully trained to avoid injuries. The rotator cuff is the main stabilizer of the shoulder joint during movement of the shoulder.



Rotator cuff injury can be a muscle strain or tear due to heavy lifting or excessive force being placed on the shoulder (such as wear and tear from throwing a ball).

If you lift weights, play a racquet sport, throwing sport or swim, you need to do balanced strengthening of these muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor). For example, if you over-strengthen your internal rotators relative to the external rotators, you will set yourself up for shoulder injury.

The larger the tear, the harder it is to lift or extend the arm. As with tendonitis, pain, weakness and inflammation accompany rotator cuff injuries.

This condition does not affect the joint capsule but does affect the muscles and tendons of the shoulder joint. Rotator cuff injuries can sometimes take months to heal because of the lack of blood supply to this area. Massage will increase blood flow and oxygen to this area.

Some good rotator cuff exercises are: internal rotations, external rotations, 90 degree rotations and lateral raises. Don't use heavy weights. Five or 10 pound dumbbells are sufficient. General shoulder and back strength exercises should also be a part of your program.

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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