FAQ023: What is the rotator cuff?

The Rotator Cuff: Stability in the Shoulder

The rotator cuff is one of the most common injuries I see in my practice. The shoulder is a really vulnerable joint because of how it was designed (for lack of a better term!). Many people know what they’ve hurt their shoulder, but exactly what these muscles are and why the injury happened is still a mystery.

The Shoulder needs to move

The shoulder is so vulnerable because of how flexible it needs to be. Think about your knee, you move it really in two directions. It bends and straightens. The shoulder has to be able to move up, down, to the side, across your body, in a circle. Because of that, it uses the muscles of the rotator cuff to keep the shoulder in the shoulder socket. In the knee, it has a lot of ligaments that help keep it sturdy. The same isn’t true about the shoulder.

The Rotator Cuff is comprised of four muscles

These four muscles are: the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, subscapularis. They cover the shoulder joint like your hand covers a ball that you have just caught. The muscle on the top of the shoulder, the supraspinatus, is the muscle most commonly injured.

Check out the video and let us know if you have any questions about your shoulder injury or how the rotator cuff works in general.

Have you been keeping up to date with the FAQ series? Check out some of our past videos on the meniscus of the knee (here for the video and here for the article).


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Christina Prevett

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