Posture and keeping the shoulders happy while avoiding injury go hand on hand. Its easy to see how rotator cuff injuries are so common when you look at the size of muscles you are working in opposition to and sometimes against.
The purpose of the rotator cuff is to “rotate” and support the “cuff”. Seems too simple! The cuff the keeping the head of the humorous hugged into its joint/socket so it is a smooth relationship between the bones of the shoulder. This maintains the integrity of the muscles which support and surround the joint. The image provided is a good visual for seeing how the “cuff” is supposed to work in sucking/hugging into the joint.
One of the first goals for maintaining a healthy relationship of the joint and the surrounding muscles are maintaining a healthy posture. Naturally when poor posture pulls the muscles continually into an improper position, over time the imbalances occur where that can become the “new norm” but in the process bring about a number of injuries, including overuse of the biceps, lack of scapular movement, rotator cuff tears or fraying, neck discomfort and mid back pain. Dysfunction of the shoulder can sometimes reveal itself with lower back pain as well when one area of the body is working harder to create movement where another area is not performing.
The most common muscular imbalance comes from the pecs i.e. chest vs the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff muscles are small vs the pec muscle is large and usually extraordinarily strong because A) we live life in front of us and B) some of the most popular exercises are chest press and push-ups!
The next common imbalance comes from the rotator cuff itself. It consists of 4 muscles each of which surround the joint and function to create nearly 360 degrees worth of movement, think circles in every plane of motion! We will discuss proper position but not balancing the rotator cuff itself as that would be custom to the individual to avoid injury in a delicate location of the body.
The following stretches are designed the assist in stretching the pecs and putting your shoulder in a proper position to reduce the imbalances and tug of war that can occur in the shoulder.