by Cécile Bayeul, RN

Shoulder pain is typically caused by rotator cuff issues.

Rotator cuff injuries are commonly associated with motions that require repeated overhead motions or forceful pulling motions. A rotator cuff injury can include any type of irritation or damage to the rotator cuff muscles or tendons.

rotator-cuff

What is the rotator cuff ?

The rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscles and their 4 tendons that connect the upper arm (humerus) to the shoulder blade (scapula). They act to stabilize the shoulder. The 4 tendons stabilize the shoulder joint. Each of these tendons attaches to a muscle that moves the shoulder in a specific direction. The four muscles whose tendons form the rotator cuff are the subscapularis muscle, which moves the arm by turning it inward (internal rotation); the supraspinatus muscle, which is responsible for elevating the arm and moving it away from the body; the infraspinatus muscle, which assists the lifting of the arm during outward turning (external rotation) of the arm; and the teres minor muscle, which also helps in the outward turning (external rotation) of the arm.

Function of the rotator cuff.

The rotator cuff muscles are important in shoulder movements and in maintaining shoulder joint stability.

During abduction of the arm, moving it outward and away from the trunk, the rotator cuff compresses the glenohumeral joint, a term known as concavity compression, in order to allow the large deltoid muscle to further elevate the arm. Without the rotator cuff, the deltoid muscle will not be efficient.

Rotator cuff issues.

  • Rotator cuff tear : Tear of one or more of the tendons of the four rotator cuff muscles.
  • Rotator cuff tendinitis : inflammation or irritation of a tendon.
  • Rotator cuff impingement : Tendons of the rotator cuff muscles that become irritated and inflamed as they pass through the subacromial space, the passage beneath the acromion.

Rotator cuff treatment by Strengthening.

Here are different exercises to target the individual rotator cuff muscles :

  • side-lying external rotation (External Rotations to the side) : activates the supraspinatus, subscapularis, infraspinatus and teres minor.

Lie on a bench sideways, with the affected arm next to the side and flexed about 90 degrees at the elbow. Rotate the upper arm outward, keeping the elbow flexed and the arm close to the body, until the lower arm is perpendicular to the ceiling (see picture). For added resistance, use a dumbbell. Pace at two seconds out and four seconds back.

  • propped external rotator (External Rotations to the top) : targets the infraspinatus and teres minor.

Sit perpendicular to the dumbbell with arm flexed at 90 degrees at the elbow, and the forearm resting parallel on the dumbbell. Raise the dumbbell up until the forearm points up. Slowly lower the dumbbell and repeat, exercising both arms.

  • The lateral raise with internal rotation : targets the supraspinatus.

Grasping a dumbbell in each hand, internally rotate the arms so that the thumbs point towards the floor when extended (as if emptying a drink into a bin). Raise the arms sideways, keeping the thumbs pointing downwards, until the dumbbells are just below the shoulders.

Strengthening the rotator cuff allows for increased loads in a variety of exercises.

Weight training.

For rotator cuff strengthening exercises you can do the following routine to warm up your shoulder before your workouts :

Superset
– External Rotations to the side 2-3 sets of 20-50 repetitions (no rest)
– External Rotations to the top 2-3 sets of 20-50 repetitions (30 sec rest)

You can start with no weight and then you can use bands in order to add resistance. Finally, you can graduate to using dumbbells.

Never forget to warm up your rotator cuff before any of your training that can involve shoulder movements such as :

– Shoulder workout
– Chest workout
– Back workout

Exercises to avoid with rotator issues.

You should not do any exercises that you can NOT perform with PERFECT FORM without shoulder pain.

For example :

  • Any incline press exercises, flat press exercises, military press
  • Push up exercises
  • Pull up exercises
  • Exercises that are performed behind the neck

Nutrition for a healthy rotator cuff.

Always eat your good fats such as extra virgin olive oil, fish oil, flaxseed oil, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, avocado, salmon…

In regards to supplements you can use :

  • Essential Fatty Acids like Labrada’s EFA Lean which contains a variety of good fats. I suggest a dose of 3 capsules in 2 of your fat free meals.
  • Labrada’s ElastiJoint as this is a great joint nourishing supplement. You can take it once a day…it can be consumed at any time but I like to take it after the workout.

For more information about this topic and other exercise demonstrations, please take a look at the video below :

Conclusion.

In order to rehabilitate shoulder injuries, and prevent future ones, you need to strengthen the rotator cuff via exercises, via the consumption of good fats, and joint nourishing supplementation.

Take care of your health everybody, and enjoy your workout !! 😉

*source Wikipedia, and Pain Management Health Center Web pic