How To Rehabilitate Your Shoulder Joint

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Most people fail to realise the efficacy of rotator cuff exercises and why they will help you in your exercise programme. I will discuss where these muscles are, what their main function is and how they benefit your workout regime.

First I’m going to discuss the anatomy of the rotator cuff musculature. The rotator cuff is made up of four small muscles in and around the shoulder. They essentially hold the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) into the socket of the glenohumeral joint. They help check arm dislocation and maintain the integrity of the gleno-humeral joint (shoulder). This is the job of the rotator cuff that most exercisers know and understand, however, it has many more important functions that are really important to athletes and gym goers alike.

Two of the rotator cuff muscles are external rotators of the upper arm bone, namely the infraspinatus and teres minor. Both are very important in throwing or swinging tasks such as baseball, boxing, cricket, javelin or martial arts. In all of these sports the arm bone has to be moved at great speeds and to maintain the safety of the delicate shoulder joint these tiny rotator cuff muscles have to control the acceleration brought about in the arms. When they are not secure enough to do this then both shoulder joint and rotator cuff injury are very likely.

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If you actively play any racquet sports, martial arts or throwing sports then starting a serious rotator cuff programme into your training routine is a must, even as a profilactic measure against future shoulder injuries. There are several variations of these exercises but a very simple one to start off with is by lying on the floor with a small dumb bell in one hand. Begin by lying on one side with the appropriate arm on top. Keeping your upper arm pinned to your side and then twist around your elbow and lift the dumb bell up towards the ceiling and then slowly reverse the motion on the way down. This will effectively train both the teres minor and the infraspinatus.

Now even if you’re not involved in any of these sports or disciplines then a sound rotator cuff programme is still highly to you for the following reasons. With our commonly seated environment people are becoming very kyphotic (round backed) which makes their shoulders slump forward and their arms round in. This posture is not only very bad for your back and neck it also looks awful (if you’re a bodybuilder then this will kill you!) but it will also mean many of your upper body exercises will be affected due to the imbalance in the shoulder.

Your shoulder joints have inbuilt detectors that tell your nervous system that exposing the joint to a large force (heavy lifting) will damage it due to the awkward position and therefore it lowers the force application. What this means in the weights roomgym is that you won’t be able to lift as heavy because you have a muscle imbalance and poor joint movement. This can all be reversed by improving your posture and strengthening your rotator cuff musculature to balance the shoulder joint. Once this is achieved your nervous system will allow much more force through this healthier joint and you will experience large gains in your primary lifts.

Feel free to contact me for more information about rotator cuff training or a postural assessment which I regularly perform with my clients to help them get the most out of their rehab programmes. My health club is in Central London where I work from Monday to Friday.

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