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July 28, 2014

Rotator Cuff; What is That?

By Lesley Cuddington, Registered Physiotherapist

With all the nice weather in Vancouver, the tennis courts are packed, the parks are filled with little league baseball players, and the beach is bustling with beach volleyball players. All of these activities have one thing in common: a high risk of injury to the shoulder, especially the rotator cuff.

While many people have heard of the rotator cuff, very few people truly know what the rotator cuff is and how it functions.

The rotator cuff is made up of 4 major muscles: infraspinatus, teres minor and supraspinatus which rotate the shoulder outwards and the subscapularis which is one of the muscles which rotate the shoulder inwards. These muscles are put under a great deal of strain, especially in throwing events and racket sports where your arm is above your head a lot. The rotator cuff helps rotate the shoulder but also provides the majority of the stabilization of the shoulder. A sudden sharp pain in the shoulder would indicate a possible rupture of a tendon, while a gradual onset is more likely to be inflammation.

If you’ve damaged your rotator cuff, some common symptoms can be:

  • Pain during overhead activity such as throwing or racket sports
  • Pain when you bend the arm and rotate it outwards against resistance
  • Pain on the outside of the shoulder possibly radiating down into the arm
  •  Pain in the shoulder which is worse at night
  • Stiffness in the shoulder joint

The above are common presentations but even if these don’t match your symptoms, you could still have a rotator cuff injury. As with many overuse injuries, it is easier to prevent this injury from occurring in the first place. Careful attention should be applied to strengthening the rotator cuff muscles.  Don’t wait until you have an injury to train your rotator cuff. Let’s get you ready for playoffs for beach volleyball, tennis, baseball, and softball!

 

Article by Lesley Cuddington, Registered Physiotherapist at Teamworks Health Clinic, a multi-disciplinary clinic in the heart of Vancouver offering Physiotherapy, Chiropractic, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, Dietetics and more.  For more information visit www.teamworkshealth.ca or call 604-428-3006

 

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