Ever wondered how to take care of your rotator cuff? You may have a nagging shoulder problem that you’re trying to figure out. Or perhaps you just want to stay ahead of the game and be proactive about keeping it healthy.
Well, there are certain things you can do on a daily basis to keep your shoulders as healthy as possible– and we’re going to tell you about them.
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and their tendons that act together as one muscle, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). The purpose of this muscle is not only to provide stability for your shoulder joint, but also to rotate your arm.
When you raise your arm above your head, for example, the muscles in this group are working to keep your shoulder joint stable. When you reach forward with one hand toward the opposite knee, they are working together to rotate your arm. And when you turn all the way to see behind you while driving or riding in a car, these muscles are also working to rotate your arm.
While it may seem simple, this muscle group is often the cause of pain, bad posture and shoulder injuries. This makes caring for the rotator cuff muscles important in preventing injury or discomfort.
First, you need to know what causes these problems to occur. According to AAOS, several factors can lead to trouble in the rotator cuff. A quick recap of the anatomy of the shoulder joint shows that there are two main bones, or “humeral heads,” in your shoulder joint. The humerus is the bone at the top of your arm, and the scapula is the flat triangular bone located at your back.
When you lift your arm, the shoulder joint actually goes through a large range of motion– and this is where many problems start. If you create too much force with your rotator muscles, or if they aren’t strong enough to handle the load created by weight training, you may injure these muscles during an intense workout.
This can be further complicated if you work out at a gym that is not well equipped for weight training. This, along with the improper form used during exercise or weightlifting sessions, can leave you with an injury to your rotator cuff.
But don’t let this discourage you from your workout routine! Now that you know what causes these injuries, there are some simple precautions that can help.
First, build a good foundation in the gym. If you’re just starting out in the weight room and don’t know anything about exercise or lifting weights, it’s best to get some professional training. Even if you’ve been working out for years but haven’t seen much improvement, consulting with a trainer will help identify your problem areas and correct your form.
“I recommend all weight training beginners to get at least one session with a trainer,” says Personal Trainer and Fitness Expert Jay Cardiello . “He/she will look at your workout routine and do an assessment of their own. The trainer should tell you what exercises/weights to use, how long to rest between sets, if you should use a lifting belt and if you should train with a partner.”
Then, the trainer can set up a program that will best fit your goals and needs. This way, you’ll be using techniques and form that won’t create any unnecessary stress on your rotator cuff– making it much less likely to get injured.
If you already have a shoulder injury, exercise with caution. A good trainer can tell you which exercises to avoid and how to train around the injury. It’s always best to get professional advice if you’re rehabilitating from a rotator cuff injury or trying to stay healthy.
Also, using a lifting belt while training helps support your back and provides the right form to avoid injury. You can often find these at your gym or they are available at many sporting goods stores.
Finally, working out with a partner helps keep you accountable– plus it can be fun! Your trainer may know of someone looking to make better use of their time by pairing up with others who train at the same gym. This way, you can all help each other stay on track and reach your goals faster.