What is a Rotator Cuff, Anyway?

Posted on March 12, 2019


Written By: Alena Walrath, LPTA

Did you know that your shoulder joint has the greatest range of movement out of all of the joints in your body? Because of this, your rotator cuff is actually pretty important. Your shoulder depends on a group of 4 muscles that provide stability by helping keep your shoulder joint in place and performing certain motions. These muscles, which consist of the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis, make up your rotator cuff. There are also many other muscles that add stability to the entire shoulder girdle.

If the term “rotator cuff” sounds familiar, it may be because rotator cuff injuries are common with overhead or contact sports as well as people performing repetitive overhead motions. Your likelihood of having a rotator cuff injury also increases with age secondary to thinning of the muscle and can occur as a result of a fall.

If you notice shoulder pain when you sleep on your side or have pain and weakness when reaching up over your head or behind your back, it may be time to see a physical therapist or doctor. Some rotator cuff injuries can be minor and resolve with just rest from the activity causing pain and physical therapy, while others require both surgery and physical therapy in order to heal and restore range of motion. If you have been suffering from shoulder pain, don’t wait! By addressing shoulder pain now, you can help prevent the injury from becoming worse and reinjuring your shoulder in the future.