How to prevent injuring your rotator cuff

Rotator cuff injuries are common among both active and sedentary, young and older patients at Sports Focus. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and their tendons, that are attached to the head of the upper arm and rise from the shoulder blade. It provides stability and strength when the shoulder joint moves. It helps you raise your arm to the side and twist your hand behind your back and head.

How rotator cuff injuries happen

These injuries are quite common among people over the age of 40 and are often caused by age-related reasons. In our younger patients, rotator cuff injuries occur due to overuse during sports or trauma to the shoulder. They’re also common in those who work in occupations requiring repetitive or overhead tasks.

At first, these injuries can feel like a nagging ache in the shoulder when you reach overhead, are getting dressed or you’re lying on your side at night. With continued, repetitive use, this can develop into weakness and pain.

How to prevent rotator cuff injuries

The shoulder joint is very mobile, so prevention will depend on the strength of your rotator cuff tendons and muscles in stabilising the joint. To help prevent injuries, it’s vital that you strengthen your rotator cuff as well as surrounding muscles.

Rotator cuff exercises can be incorporated into your gym program. It’s also important that you strengthen the muscles responsible for stabilising the scapula, since they are at the base of all shoulder movements. If one of these muscles are weak, more stress will be placed on your rotator cuff tendons.

Upper back mobility is also important for preventing rotator cuff injuries and other shoulder injuries. Poor mobility in your thoracic spine can round your shoulders and reduce thoracic extension. This puts more load on the rotator cuff and increases your risk of injury.