A question that I get asked all too often is, “What can I do about my tight shoulders? I stretch them all the time and nothing gets any better.”
This is usually followed up with a look that suggests that the person is looking for an instant fix. The truth is that there is no quick fix for addressing any mobility deficits. If that’s what you are here for then maybe this isn’t the article for you.
However, if you are looking for a tried and true method for improving shoulder mobility then this is exactly the place you need to be.
And the first thing you should ask yourself is this…
What Exactly is the Rotator Cuff?
Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, and the Subscapularis: Collectively, these four muscles make up the rotator cuff. Together, this group of muscles acts to stabilize your shoulder as you move it through a variety of positions. They also assist in internal and external rotation.
To remember the names of these muscles, just think of the word SITS, which spells out the first letters of each of your rotator cuff muscles.
S for Supraspinatus
I for Infraspinatus
T for Teres Minor
And S for Subscapularis.
The first three (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and teres minor) are located on the backside of the shoulder and aid to externally rotate the shoulder. In addition, these muscles are extremely important for stabilizing your shoulder through a variety of positions.
The subscapularis, located deep to the scapula, is a powerful internal rotator of the shoulder. If you have rounded shoulders, or know someone that does, chances are that they need to stretch out this muscle while strengthening the exernal rotators to balance out the shoulder.
Why Rotator Cuff Injuries Occur?
Injuries can occur in many ways. But most people will fall under one (or more) of four different categories:
Overload: Often times, rotator cuff injuries happen when you ask too much of your shoulders. The rotator cuff comprises of small,stabilizer muscles, which are liable to tear when exposed to extreme stresses
Imbalances: With all the repetitive movements we do throughout the day, muscle imbalances are hard to avoid, especially in our shoulders. If you’ve ever had to spend 8 hours at a desk, you’ll know what I mean. The exercises I share with you in this article will help you balance out the rotator cuff equation for healthier shoulders.
Neglect: More often than not, shoulder pain and stiffness is simply the result of neglectful treatment. This lack of varied movement in the shoulders can lead to atrophy in the now shortened and brittle rotator cuff muscle group. A simple fix is to start a strength training program that focuses on developing these muscles.
Knots: I’m going to be honest here, this is only here because I needed a word that starts with the letter “K” to make this alliteration work. Don’t you think that the word “knots” is fitting in this situation? Because knots are a major indicator that your muscles need a little TLC.
What sound does a pig make? Collectively these four categories (Overload, Imbalances, Neglect, and Knots) make up that very same four letter word, OINK. Don’t be the metaphorical pig that neglects their shoulder mobility.
Daily Maintenance For A Healthier Rotator Cuff
Fixing your shoulders is not a complicated process. In fact, you can get some pretty significant results simply by doing the following exercises daily.
Exercise #1: Kneeling Scapular Shrugs
Exercise #2: Controlled Arm Circles
Exercise #3: Posterior Capsule Stretch