Most of us have heard of the term rotator cuff before, but the truth is, there’s no actual cuff in any region of the shoulder.  The “rotator cuff” is a group of four muscles that includes the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis.  Teres minor, the smallest of the muscles, is the junior co-worker to the infraspinatus and they can be found right next to each other.  The teres minor originates on the upper two-thirds of the lateral edge of the dorsal surface of the scapula and inserts to the back of the greater tubercle of humerus – the capsule of the shoulder joint.

Your teres minor can be surprisingly tight and inhibiting healthy shoulder range of motion.
Your teres minor can be surprisingly tight and inhibiting healthy shoulder range of motion.

The teres minor and the infraspinatus are king and queen of keeping the shoulder joint from upward dislocation and facilitate external rotation of the humerus.  As someone who often had dislocated shoulders growing up and continually deals with tender deltoids I wasn’t surprised when a recent body worker (masseuse) was flabbergasted by the amount of trigger points located in my teres minors.  The muscle is petite in size and isn’t at the top of our list of distressed muscles that need our attention.  With that said, trigger points in the devious muscle can be masked as shoulder bursitis, the symptom being deep pain in the shoulder, and can also make the deltoids feel sore.  As of recently, I’ve been treating my deltoid, but neglecting the source of the problem – the teres minor.

There is an upswing to all of this.  The teres minor is relatively easy to access and relieve through shoulder self massage with Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls.  It can also increase the flexion and external rotation of the shoulder joint once you release this cramped muscle, which can come in handy when you snuggle into that comfy sweatshirt from college, wrangle into that cute new jacket or grasp for the heavy pot that is stored on top of your refrigerator.  Get rolling!

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