The rotator cuff is a bundle of muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the shoulder that keep the shoulder stable as you lift and twist your arm. Injuries to the rotator cuff are common, with 10% of adults in their 50s and half of those in their 70s having one.
Most rotator cuff injuries are related to aging, which is why we see the number of injuries increase with age. However, they can still occur in young adults from poor shoulder mechanics, overuse, or trauma.
Tips to Prevent Rotator Cuff Injuries
Rotator cuff injuries are possible for all types of individuals, from the athlete to the sedentary adult, so it is important for you to know how to prevent injury to this highly used area of the body.
Maintain Good Posture
Many of us suffer from poor posture due to hunching over our computers during the day. However, poor posture can cause a problem with the shoulder blades, which can then impact the rotator cuff. To keep everything pain-free, focus on maintaining good posture.
The shoulder has the greatest range of motion of all joints in the body, but it relies upon the large muscles around the shoulder joint and the smaller muscles that make up the rotator cuff for stability. While traditional weightlifting or exercise can provide some benefit to these muscles, the key to preventing rotator cuff injuries is to specifically target the muscles responsible for keeping the shoulder joints stable.
One way to do this is by stretching the muscles in the chest and back of the shoulder joint, which keeps them from becoming tight and restricting your range of motion.
Do Strengthening Exercises
In addition to stretching specific muscles, the key to preserving the rotator cuff is strengthening the small muscles in the rotator cuff. This ensures the muscles are strong enough to retain stability when moving the shoulder. Weak muscles lend the shoulder to moving outside its ideal range of motion, which increases the risk of injury to the ligaments or tendons.
Check Your Sleeping Position
The way in which you sleep can affect your shoulder health. To prevent rotator cuff injuries, avoid sleeping on your side with your arm above your head, as this strains the tendons in your rotator cuff. Also, try to avoid lying on your shoulder while sleeping, as this can place it in an unusual position, resulting in pain upon waking.
When To See a Us
As much as you may try to prevent a rotator cuff injury, they are still possible, and it is always important to see a doctor once you notice any pain or discomfort. Otherwise, you may risk making your injury worse.
Signs that you should see a doctor include:
- weakness in the shoulder or arm
- pain on top of the shoulder or down the outside of the arm
- loss of motion
- inability to reach up or behind the back
If you are experiencing any of these problems, contact us for more information on what to do next so we can help you relieve your pain and discomfort and return your range of motion to your shoulder.