Preventing Rotator Cuff Injuries

What is a rotator cuff?

The rotator cuff is comprised of 4 muscles: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis. These muscles originate from your scapula (shoulder blade) and then merge to insert into your humerus (upper arm bone).


Why is my rotator cuff important?

The rotator cuff is important in reaching over your head, rotating your arm and overall stabilizing your ball and socket shoulder joint. This means that this group of muscles are very involved our every day activities.

How do I know that I have a rotator cuff Injury?

The following are possible symptoms you can experience when you injure or tear your rotator cuff:

  • Pain
    • When raising your arm
    • Night pain: You might wake up frequently at night from pain when lying on the affected side or from delayed soreness after a long day at work.
  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint stiffness/tenderness
  • Feeling of instability


How do I prevent a rotator cuff injury?

Rotator cuff injuries mainly come from repetitive, overhead activities. These are some tips to prevent a rotator cuff injury:

  • Maintain good posture! Stand/sit straight and avoid slouching. Slouching can change the position of the shoulder, causing tightness and poor movement patterns.
  • Watch your lifting technique! Lifting improperly can injure your rotator cuff instantly or overtime due to repetitive stress.
  • Wear protective gear when playing sports!
  • Take frequent breaks! Avoid over-working your arms and prolonged stressful positions. 
  • Exercise! Keep your shoulder flexible and strong with the proper exercises recommended by your physical therapist.

What course of action should I take if I tore my rotator cuff?

Since the rotator cuff is highly involved in our every day activities, it is common to injure those muscles. Injuries can range from a muscle strain to a complete tear. When injuries get as severe as a tear, the question comes into mind of whether physical therapy or surgery is the solution.

In general, if you are feeling those symptoms you can first consult with your local Direct-Access Physical Therapist to see if rehabilitation is the solution. The Physical Therapist will assess your pain and symptoms then prescribe the best course of treatment for your shoulder. The goal is to avoid costly surgery however if necessary your therapist will refer you to your doctor an orthopedic surgeon.

Contact Vital Step Physical Therapy for more information!