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Rotator Cuff Function

October 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Rotator Cuff

rotator cuff function Many people confuse a rotator cuff with a shoulder joint.  They are two completely different parts of the body!  It’s not uncommon for individuals to say they are suffering from shoulder pain when in fact they have a rotator cuff injury.

The primary rotator cuff  function is to enable you to raise your arms forward and away from your body up over your head. It also enables us to perform simple movements like throwing/catching a ball or retrieving an item that is placed on a high shelf or cupboard.

But in order for our rotator cuff to perform these basic but essential day to day tasks and movements, there are four muscles that must work in conjunction to achieve this. These four muscles come from the scapula to encapsulate the head of the humerus to form what’s commonly referred to as the rotator cuff.

The rotator cuff muscles work in unison to push down on the head of the humerus bone as your deltoid muscle strains, wraps and pulls in the opposite direction.

To fully understand the function of your rotator cuff, it’s important to learn a little more about each of the 4 muscles that comprise the rotator cuff.


The internal rotation of your shoulder is the first function of the Subscapularis muscle. When your throw a ball or make a throwing action with your arm, it’s the subscapularis muscle which is engaged and is responsible for your follow through. Your subscapularis also helps you to lower your arm downwards, towards the side of your body.


The supraspinatus is the largest muscle of the four that make up your rotator cuff.  It’s primary function is to aid in the stabilization of the head of the humerus bone. It works together with your deltoid muscles to lift and move your shoulder away from your body.

What you may not know is that even though the Supraspinatus is the biggest of the four muscles, most rotator cuff tears occur here in this muscle. To make matters worse, the blood supplied to this muscle is minimal.  This means that this muscle is often quite challenging to heal when it becomes torn as muscles repair faster when they receive a higher volume of blood.


The primary function of your infraspinatus muscle is to aid in the reaching above your head to catch an object.  It also provides stabilization of your shoulder and works as an external rotator.

Teres Minor

The fourth and final muscle that makes up your rotator cuff region is the Teres Minor.  The primary function of it is to work together with your Infraspinatus to help provide stabilization of your shoulder and help in external rotation.

So to sum up, the primary function of your rotator cuff is to provide stability to your shoulder joint!  But many people suffer from a weak rotator cuff which can lead to shoulder weakness and poor posture.

If you currently have a rotator cuff injury, you can recover from it simply be performing 4 simple rotator cuff exercises at home, sitting in your favorite chair watching TV!

Click on the Learn More button below where a short video will show you how!

rotator cuff function

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