It seems like most people know what the rotator cuff is, probably because it is so commonly injured. The cuff is a critical part of the shoulder complex. It is a group of 4 muscles that work together to keep the head of the humerus centered in the socket or ‘glenoid’ of the glenohumeral (GH) joint.
The GH is a highly mobile joint which allows movement in multiple planes – allowing us to push, pull and reach; it has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body.
Obviously this is very helpful, and we must preserve as much freedom of movement as possible, but it does come at a cost. This joint achieves its mobility at the expense of stability, which is why it is renowned for dislocations.
Many rotator cuff issues relate to poor joint stability and GH control. This instability is often secondary to muscular weakness; if the movement of the humeral head is not well controlled, it can cause excessive strain on the rotator cuff muscles leading to tendinopathies and impingement syndromes. It can also increase the chance of cartilage injuries and dislocations.
At the other end of the spectrum, problems can occur with a loss of GH motion, or when there is joint stiffness. This can result from an injury or as a result of long periods of limited use. The phrase ‘use it or lose it’ is certainly true of the GH joint and rotator cuff. Prolonged periods sitting at our desks and failure to use our full range of movement can lead to joint stiffness and rotator cuff degeneration and irritation.
Watch this video to see some of the simple ways we can help you restore strength and mobility to the GH joint and rotator cuff muscles: