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Sports Article: Shoulder Stability, Rotator Cuff Conditioning
By Karen Goeller, CSCS
Copyright © 2011 Goeller This article is NOT available for reprint or use in any format without written permission from the author, Karen Goeller, CSCS..
Shoulder Stability, Rotator Cuff exercises. Useful exercises for gymnasts, baseball players, swimmers, volleyball players, etc.
These muscles originate on the scapula and their tendons insert onto the humerus. The muscles in the rotator cuff include the teres minor, infraspinatus, supraspinatus, and subscapularis. The tendons of these muscles form a cuff to stabilize the shoulder, elevate the arm, and rotate the arm. The muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff keep the head of the humerus in the glenohumeral joint.
The supraspinatus originates on the upper posterior surface of the scapula and inserts on the greater tuberosity of the humerus. It initiates shoulder abduction, lifts the arm. The supraspinatus is the most common of the four muscles to be injured because it ruptures from the bone.
The infraspinatus originates on the lower posterior surface of the scapula and inserts on the posterior (back) of the greater tuberosity of the humerus. It outwardly rotates the arm.
The teres minor originates on the lateral scapula border and inserts on the lower part of the greater tuberosity of the humerus. It outwardly rotates the arm.
The subscapularis originates on the anterior surface of the scapula and inserts on the lesser tuberosity of the humerus. The subscapularis muscle inwardly rotates the arm.
In the article, Baseball Strength Training Shoulder Safety: Popular Exercises NOT to Do In the Gym, Kyle Brown, CSCS compares the shoulder joint to “a golf ball on a tee—unsupported. The benefit to this lack of support is that the shoulder joint is one of the most mobile joints in the body. Yet, the inherent risk is that it is highly susceptible to injury when mistreated as the ball of the upper arm is larger than the shoulder socket.”
The tendons of these muscles form a cuff to stabilize the shoulder, elevate the arm, and rotate the arm. Although the rotator cuff tendons and muscles provide stability to the shoulder, they are prone to injury, especially in athletes. Baseball players, swimmers, quarterbacks, volleyball players, and gymnasts are all prone to rotator cuff injuries. Excessive force or overuse can tear weak rotator cuff tendons. The supraspinatus is the one that is injured most often. It sometimes tears away from bone.
Once an athlete has a tear to the rotator cuff, the shoulder may become very weak and range of motion is reduced. With a partial tear, the athlete may still be able to move the shoulder, but with a complete rupture it is nearly impossible to move the arm in the complete range of motion.
How do we protect the rotator cuff? With specific conditioning exercises you can reduce your risk of injury. Many of the exercises you will see here are not very popular in fitness settings. These exercises are performed by athletes in sports facilities and they are often prescribed to patients in rehab settings. Rotator cuff exercises should be performed with very light weight. Remember, rehabilitation is a lifetime commitment.
Here are some exercises for the rotator cuff…
Standing Windshield Wipers with Bands: External and internal rotation.
Secure a light fitness band to something very stable such as fitness equipment. Grasp both ends of the band, one end in each hand. Stand so that your left side is facing the equipment. Bend your arms to a 90 degree angle and keep your elbows at your sides, on your ribs. Once in place pull the bands towards the right, away from the equipment. Do not allow your elbows to move even though your lower arms are moving from a forward to side position. Turn around and perform the exercise facing the opposite direction.
Windshield Wipers: External and internal rotation.
Start by lying on your side. Bring your arms down towards your ribs. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Keep your elbows bent and your elbows on your ribs. Slowly raise your hands towards the ceiling. Repeat this exercise on your other side.
Empty Can: Internal rotation.
Stand with your arms at your sides. Keep them straight. Bring your arms slightly forward and then turn your thumbs towards the floor. Raise your arms until they are at about a 45 degree angle. Think about how you would empty a can when performing this exercise.
Scarecrow: External rotation.
Stand with your arms at your sides. Raise your arms out to the side until they are at or near the same height as your shoulders. Bend your arms and point your fingers towards the wall in front of you. Your hands will be the same height as your shoulders. You should feel as if you are going to push something forward. Keeping your arms bent at a 90 degree angle and your elbows at shoulder height, raise your hands until your fingers point towards the ceiling. Lower your hands keeping your elbows up and then repeat the motion.
Prone External Rotation
This is a similar motion as the scarecrow. Lie on your stomach on a table. Hang your lower arm off the table. The crease of your elbow should be at the edge of the table. Your upper arm remains on top of the table. Point your fingers towards the floor. Keeping your arm bent lift your hand until it is the same height as the table. Lower your hand and then repeat the lift.
Some experts said….
Dr. William Stetson “The supraspinatus is most common to be injured. It ruptures from bone.”
Dr. Robert Tashjia “The tendons/tears will not heal themselves. There are long term issues if you do not go along with the prescribed treatment. Conservative treatment is to strengthen the rotator cuff and deltoids, keep shoulder flexible. Strength will allow other muscles to compensate for effected rotator cuff.”
Dr. Joe Kasper “The Bench Press and the Shoulder Press are two of the most damaging exercises a person can do who participates in activities that involve high degrees of external rotation (Rotator Cuff). These exercises put tremendous strain on the anterior and medial aspects of the shoulder joint causing inflammation to the area around the shoulder capsule.”
Shoulder Stability, Rotator Cuff exercises. Useful exercises for gymnasts, baseball players, swimmers, volleyball players, etc. Prevent or rehab from a shoulder injury.
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