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Importance Of Rotator Cuff And Reasons For Injury

The rotator cuff is made up of muscles and tendons that keep the ball of the upper-arm bone in the shoulder socket. It helps one to raise and rotate the arms. Each one of these muscles is part of the rotator cuff and plays an important role in our  upper body function. 

During arm movements, the rotator muscles contract and prevent the sliding of the head of the humerus, allowing full range of motion and providing stability. Additionally, rotator cuff muscles help in the mobility of the shoulder joint by facilitating abduction, medial rotation, and lateral rotation.

In short, the rotator cuff is the reason that one can have effective usage of ones arms.

The rotator cuff  is composed of four muscles, each of which has a tendon that attaches to the upper arm bone. These four muscles are as follows.

  • Supraspinatus
  • Infraspinatus
  • Teres minor
  • Subscapularis

Categories of Rotator Cuff Injuries

Rotator cuff injuries can range from mild to severe. They tend to fall into one of three categories.

Tendinitis (commonly known as impingement syndrome) is an injury caused by overuse of the rotator cuff. This causes the tendons to become inflamed.

Bursitis is another common rotator cuff injury. It’s caused by inflammation of the bursa (fluid filled pouch).

Rotator cuff strains or tears are caused by overuse or acute injury. The tendons that connect muscles to bones can overstretch (strain) or tear, partially or completely.


The symptoms associated with a rotator cuff injury may be:

  • Dull ache deep in the shoulder.
  • Disturbed sleep, particularly if you lie on the affected shoulder.
  • Difficulty in combing your hair or reaching behind your back.
  • Accompanied by arm weakness.

How Posture Can Contribute To RC Injuries?

Often, rotator cuff tendons press on the coracoacromial arch (bony arch formed by parts of collar bone and shoulder blade and situated just above shoulder joint ) of the shoulder, which causes pain with reaching-out movements, lying on the involved side and changes in the motion of the shoulder.

Although some compression of this joint is good and considered normal, these forces are causing excessive contact during arm motions in the impinged shoulder. Common causes of impingement include:

  • Repetitive overhead movement
  • Compression to the shoulder with a fall or other trauma
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Weakness
  • Poor posture 

Essential components of managing this condition include improving the balance of strength and motion of the shoulder and correcting posture.

Sources of shoulder strength

Most of us think of the rotator cuff when considering the strength of the shoulder, because the job of these smaller muscles is to give stability to the shoulder joint during movement. The larger muscles of the shoulder and back must support these smaller muscles in order to function efficiently.

Shoulder and back muscles affect the position of the spine, shoulder blades and neck. All too often, they are weaker than the muscles in the front of our body due to prolonged slouched sitting, sedentary lifestyles, and frequently extensive use of phones and computers. 

This change in balance to the shoulder and the resulting effect on posture keeps the rotator cuff from working well.

Posture and shoulder motion

Why does posture matter with shoulder pain? When you are resting, it may not. Unfortunately, changes in posture also can change the way we move and use our body. Our posture can impact:

  • Positioning of the shoulder blade and length of attached muscles
  • Efficiency of shoulder muscles
  • Coordinated work of different muscles together
  • Space available within the shoulder joint for movement
  • Positioning of the arm as it raises

Here’s an easy way to see how your posture changes the available motion of your shoulder. Sitting with slouched posture, raise your arm as high as you can manage. Do you feel tightness and pinching with this motion? Now, sit with an upright posture and complete the same motion. Does quality of your motion improve? Does your pain change?

This is a very good way to assess the importance that Rotator Cuffs play in our upper body functionality. 

How FMTTM Helps With RC Pain And Correction

FMTTM is a holistic approach for restoring function. It is a combination of comprehensive evaluation techniques that look at every individual as completely unique. It is a treatment system which couples mechanical treatment of the joints, soft tissues, visceral and neurovascular systems with manual neuromuscular facilitation to enhance optimum motor control and human function. 

The Functional Manual Therapist is trained to identify specific mobility limitations within the joints, soft tissues, viscera and neurovascular tissues. Limited mobility in these structures can impair a patient’s function and ability to automatically and efficiently control our activities of daily living. 

The movement patterns are assessed to discover the source of pain. FMT TM restores accessory play of the joints to make return of full physiological range of motion as painless as possible. Patient education and awareness is also a very vital part of the therapy which helps to change wrong habits.

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