Rotator Cuff Therapy Exercises

The Rotator Cuff Anatomy

It is impossible to discuss your rotator cuff anatomy without referring to the shoulder as a whole. The shoulder is a remarkable structure and it is one of the most complex areas in the human body.

In this section I hope to give you an understanding of how your shoulder and your rotator cuff is made up.

I want to explain a little about your rotator cuff anatomy and how it interacts with the shoulder as a whole.

Before moving on however, The Athlete's Shoulder is one of the best resources in learning the rotator cuff anatomy. 

This book is multi-authored and not available in any other format. 

You are guaranteed to find this book in every orthopaedic department's library and on the bookshelf of all healthcare providers with a serious interest in the shoulder.

I highly recommend this for you if you want to develop subject matter expertise and truly understand this part of the body. You don't have to be an athlete like the title indicates to benefit from this publication.  I highly recommend this excellent book.

As you will discover your rotator cuff itself and how it works is also very complicated. That said it is important for you to understand why you have developed a rotator cuff tear or why you have rotator cuff pain.

Therefore, I only want to give you the important facts, information that is relevant to you. Like you I only became interested in my rotator cuff anatomy when I developed rotator cuff pain. I only began to learn a lot about my own rotator cuff once I started to successfully treat my own rotator cuff tear.

I want to teach you about how your rotator cuff actually works. Discuss a little about your rotator cuff, how it is made up, what its major purpose is and what each of the rotator cuff muscles does. Then as I said earlier you will have the full picture on how your shoulder operates.

The Shoulder

The shoulder is a very complex formation of bones, muscles and tendons and provides a great range of motion for your arm. The only downside to this extensive range of motion is a lack of stability.

This makes the shoulder joint vulnerable to injury. Well we already know this to be true, that is why you’re here right? To learn and get the information you need about your rotator cuff anatomy, and your rotator cuff injury, from someone just like you.

So let’s have a look at the whole shoulder in a little detail.

rotator cuff shoulder

A slightly different view and style with a little more detail about the bones

rotator cuff shoulder

As you can see above the shoulder is made up of three bones, and the tendons of the four rotator cuff muscles (tendons attach muscle to bone). The bones are called the "Scapula," the "Humerus" and the "Clavicle".

Or, in layman's terms, the shoulder blade, the upper arm bone and the collarbone, respectively. In some of the following pages on rotator cuff anatomy and rotator cuff muscles I go into more detail on each and also discuss the bursa and acromion shown above.

Rotator cuff muscles

The four muscles that make up the shoulder joint are collectively called the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is composed of the "Supraspinatus," the "Infraspinatus," the "Teres Minor" and the "Subscapularis."

The rotator cuff muscles are commonly referred to as “SItS” (the small “t” is to remind us that it represents Teres “Minor”). It is the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles that connect to the bones in the shoulder that help to move your arm.

In the top picture above, three of the four muscles are visible, the Supraspinatus, the Infraspinatus and the Teres Minor. These are the muscles which are viewed from the rear, or posterior.

The Subscapularis is not visible because it can only be viewed from the front, or “anterior” and this particular view only shows the muscles from the rear, as if looking at someone's back.

The rotator cuff muscles are discussed in more detail in the rotator cuff muscles section. In the following sections on Rotator Cuff Anatomy I explain in a little more detail what the Rotator Cuff does, how it does this and some of the reasons why things can go wrong.


Go from the Rotator Cuff Anatomy back to the Rotator Cuff Exercises

Go back to Rotator Cuff Muscles





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