The rotator cuff is the main stabilizer of the shoulder joint of the shoulder and it allows the arm to raise and rotate, hence the name. The four main muscles that make of the rotator cuff shown below:
The majority of rotator cuff injuries are repetitive strain injuries that occur gradually, although some injuries occur because of a trauma such as a fall or accident. Rotator cuff injuries usually fall into one of two categories:
1. Rotator Cuff Tendonitis – inflammation of the tendons of one or more of the above muscles
2. Rotator Cuff Tear – tearing of one of the tendons of one or more of the above muscles
The main signs of a rotator cuff injury are shoulder pain and weakness and this is aggravated when lifting objects above one’s shoulders/head. Poor posture can also put you at risk for developing a rotator cuff injury because as you slouch forward you place undue stress on the shoulder joint.
Tips to Prevent Rotator Cuff Injuries
While you cannot prevent trauma, there are things you can do to lower the risk of developing a rotator cuff injury:
- Exercise your rotator cuff. This will strengthen the involved muscles and help to better stabilize the shoulder joint.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects about your head. The safest level for lifting is between your waist (at your belt) and your chest. If lifting is to be done above the shoulders then ask for assistance or use a stool.
- Take Breaks when your shoulders/arms feel weak or tired. Remember, most rotator cuff injuries are repetitive stress injuries and are caused by overuse. When you’re muscles fell weak and tired they are unable to stabilize your shoulder joint properly, increasing your risk for injury.
- Listen to your parent’s advice and stand up straight. Your shoulders should be relaxed, back, and down. Avoid slouch forward.