With my son playing football and my hubby complaining of old injuries, I’ve been interested in how to best help out when it comes to certain complaints of pain. The first in this Injury Training Series is within the shoulders. Hurting our shoulders is a common injury. One that can plague you for a long time to come. While there are different reasons for injuries, a common complaint from pain in this area of the body is weak muscles around the Rotator Cuff’s.
We tend to work out areas of our bodies that will show the most. This tends to be our larger muscles and they give us that great “beach body” look. While looking good has it’s purposes, making our bodies healthy by working out all our muscles-even the ones we don’t see, couldn’t be more important. These are the muscles that support the larger ones. When they are weak, we can tear them from the tendons they are connected to causing us to not be able to utilize the muscle at all. When this happens, usually surgery is needed to fix it! To dive into this, let’s first look at what exactly is the Rotator Cuff.
Medical Definition of Rotator cuff
1. The rotator cuff is a tendon formed by three distinct muscles: teres minor, supraspinatus and infraspinatus, which stabilise the head of the humerus within the shoulder joint. Tendinitis or injury to the rotator cuff muscle can make shoulder abduction (lifting the arm out to the side) and external rotation painful. In most cases treatment includes rest, ice and physical therapy to strengthen the shoulder muscles. (13 Nov 1997) *http://www.lexic.us/definition-of/rotator_cuff
The muscles surrounding the R.C. need to work together to keep the ball in the socket and therefore keep injury at bay. Typically, to have an actual tear within our Rotator Cuff, we would have had a severe blow to the shoulder area. This could come from down-hill skiing, football, baseball or something else that would cause us to have our arm to come out of socket. Many times though, our shoulder can hurt without such an extreme injury. If there is a complaint about the shoulder, it could mean that this area has been stretched and the muscles around it are weak. This could even happen during sleep! If left unchecked and not worked out, range of motion in this shoulder could get worse and even get arthritis! To avoid this, we need to work out the muscles that support the Rotator Cuff. Since these muscles when strong keep the ball in the socket, we need to target this area as we would our bi-ceps or hamstrings! Along with the strength, we need to have the muscles around the R.C. to also be flexible so that when we do fall or take a blow to the area, our muscle have the ability to give to some degree and protect the R.C. itself from injury. Here are some exercises to help increase the strength and flexibility in this area:
Hold each stretch for 10-20 seconds and repeat. Do them 5-7days a week.
- Arm Over Head
- Arm Across Chest
- Towel Stretch
- Hands Clasp Behind Stretch
Do these Standing upright and straight (even against a wall) keeping your shoulder steady. Arm movement is the objective. With all these exercises, use small weights and keep form tight.
3 sets/10-15 reps ea.
- Cuban Rotate (small bar or small weights)
- Hitch Hiker
- Forward Arm Reach
- Inverted Forward Arm Reach
- Band Expand
- Side Arm Reach