What is the “Rotator Cuff”?


You may have heard the term Rotator Cuff before, or maybe even injured it somehow, but what does that mean?

The Rotator Cuff (RC) is a group of four muscles (the Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor & Subscapularis) that are responsible for creating stability in a place where there is a lot of mobility. This place is the shoulder joint! Your shoulder joint is where your humerus (arm bone) with a rounded ball shaped end, meets its socket, which is your scapula (shoulder blade). The rotator cuff muscles surround this joint and help to keep that ball within the socket as you move to reach overhead, to the side, behind your back or across your chest.

Your shoulder joint and the deep rotator cuff muscles are then surrounded by additional layers of larger muscle groups such as your Pectoralis Major/Minor, Deltoids and Trapezius. As a result of the more superficial muscles being larger and usually stronger than what lies beneath, it is very easy for the rotator cuff to become weak if not trained.

What are some specific ways my Rotator Cuff can become weak or damaged?

  • Working at a seated desk job for multiple hours a day with poor ergonomics/posture
  • Over exercising those larger muscle groups, without also isolating exercises for the RC
  • Having a hobby that requires repeated shoulder movement over a long period of time
  • Plain old inactivity

What results are conditions such as rotator cuff impingement/tendinitis, re-occurring shoulder dislocations or tears in the muscle in severe cases. Does any of this sound familiar to you? If so, your next step should be to book an appointment with one of our Physical Therapists at ProMet PT in Glendale, Kew Gardens or Manhasset! Our therapists will help you understand more about the shoulder and guide you with advice and a specific routine to help improve your shoulder’s health.


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