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Rotator Cuff Muscles

April 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Rotator Cuff

Despite what you may think or have heard.  The rotator cuff is not just one muscle.  It is much more complicated and intrinsic than you think.

The rotator cuff is the part of our shoulder that enables us to raise our arms outwards in front of us and away from the body over our heads. 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.

In order to perform these simple movements that we take for granted day after day, there are four small rotator cuff muscles, each with its individual role that enables us to do this.

These small muscles reach out from the scapula and join together to form a “cuff” around the head of the humerus bones in the glenoid fossa area. It’s here that they are work in sync with one another to depress the humeral head against the strain and pull of the deltoid muscle.

Lets take a look at each specific muscle that help form this cuff area of the shoulder.

The first of the four shoulder muscles is the subscapularis muscle.  The subscapularis muscle helps primarily in the internal rotation of the shoulder. When we throw a ball, it’s this muscle that is responsible with the follow through part of throwing. It also enables us to lower our arm downwards, towards the side of our body.

The second of the four muscles is the supraspinatus muscle.  As the name indicates, “supra”, it’s the largest muscle of the rotator cuff.  It helps stabilize the head of the humerus bone. Its primary function is to aid the deltoid muscles lift the shoulder away from the body.

The majority of tears to the rotator cuff occurs in this muscle and can often take the longest time to heal. The reason why this happens is simply because of the size of the muscle and the strain and pressure it takes in the majority of movements with the shoulder day in and day out.  I should also point out that this muscle does not get any supply of blood, but again it’s the muscle where you are more likely to suffer a rotator cuff tear and injury.

Third is the infraspinatus muscle which helps with overhead reaching and catching of items, aids in shoulder stabilization and works as an external rotator.  I should also add that the teres minor muscle is also involved with these shoulder activities. This smaller muscle aids in the resistance and slowing of your arm after you throw a ball or any other item that involves a throwing action or movement.

The fourth and final shoulder muscle is the teres minor muscle.  The lonely teres minor muscle as the name indicates, “minor”, simply is a “partner-in-crime” to the infraspinatus muscle that aids in shoulder stability and external shoulder rotation.

It’s important to note that the long head of your bicep muscle helps stabilize and flex your shoulder but it’s not part of the rotator cuff set of muscles.

The primary role of the rotator cuff is to provide stability to the glenohumeral joint, the most important joint in the shoulder!

But what if you’ve recently injured one of these rotator cuff muscles.  What is the best way to treat it and recover fast?  Is it possible to use easy at home rotator cuff exercises?  Can they really work?

Well, all it really takes to keep these muscles strong are 4 simple, step-by-step techniques that you can do from the comfort of your own living room, sitting in your comfy chair watching your favorite television show – without any special exercise equipment!

rotator cuff muscles

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