The rotator cuff is a group of 4 neighboring muscles that surround and work together to stabilize the glenohumeral joint. They are: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis.
The supraspinatus lives in the supraspinous fossa, the little valley directly above the horizontal ridge, or “spine” of the scapula. The supraspinatus initiates abduction of the humerus. The infraspinatus, is a flat triangular shaped muscle that lives in the infraspinous fossa, on the back of the shoulder blade, below the spine of the scapula. The infraspinatus laterally rotates the humerus. The teres minor is a diagonally shaped muscle that lives just south of the infraspinatus. It assists in lateral rotation of the humerus. All 3 attach to the greater tubercle of the humerus. Finally, the subscapularis, another triangular shaped muscle spans the entire front surface of the scapula. It medially rotates the humerus. The subscapularis attaches just below the head of the humerus.
When balanced, the rotator cuff muscles work together to stabilize the head of the humerus. However, due to repetitive movement patterns of the arms associated with everyday activities such as working on computers, driving, picking up children, carrying bags, the humerus bones are often chronically in internal rotation. As a result, the rotator cuff can easily become imbalanced. If the rotator cuff muscles are unused or injured, other accessory muscles then take over, causing further movement compensations. Extreme cases of overuse cause adhesions in rotator cuff muscles, which can lead to limited range of motion, pain, or injuries like frozen shoulder. These common issues interfere with activities of daily living making simple tasks like washing your hair and getting dressed challenging and very painful. The good news is, this can be prevented with Yoga Tune Up®!