Whether it is driving, cooking or hanging out the washing – almost anything we do with our hands and arms requires movement from our shoulder. For that reason the shoulder needs to be highly mobile in multiple planes of movement, which inherently means that is it less stable when compared with other joints. This is why it is important to improve our rotator cuff strength. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to perform everyday activities.
What is the rotator cuff?
The rotator cuff is a complex of 4 muscles which act together to rotate and stabilise the shoulder. They consist of:
- Terres Minor
These muscles originate at the shoulder blade and attach to the humerus. Because of their location, they pull the humerus into its socket. This action counters external forces that might pull the shoulder away, including dislocations or tight chest muscles as a result of poor posture.
Why is it important?
Good rotator cuff strength helps to stabilise the shoulder, therefore preventing injuries including dislocations, subluxations, fractures, strains and tendon injuries.
It also helps to minimise the risk of age-related changes. In fact, research has found that people younger than 20 years have a 9.7% prevalence of rotator cuff disease compared with 62% of those older than 80 years. This is because we lose muscle mass as we age, which leads to abnormal stress on surrounding tissue and cartilage. These changes can be minimised or even prevented with strengthening exercises:
How do I strengthen it?
Strengthening in the rotator cuff involves targeting both the rotator cuff muscles and shoulder blade mobility. Here are some exercises that help with both: