What is the Rotator Cuff ?

We have been posting a lot about shoulders recently, and this invariably involves the term ‘rotator cuff’ being thrown around.


So for today’s educational post we are reviewing what the RC actually is.


The RC is the name given to a group of 4 small muscles that surround the shoulder joint (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis & teres minor). Although they have a role in shoulder rotation, their function is actually much more varied than simply generating this movement.


The RC forms the primary dynamic stability mechanism for the shoulder joint, as well as controls joint centration and articulation during all upper limb movements. In simple terms, this means that the RC needs to be working at optimal capacity all the time, not just during rotational movements.


A large percentage of shoulder problems (pain, injury or dysfunction) involve some kind of RC issue. That issue may be weakness, tightness, underactivity, imbalances or timing issues. But ultimately, if you can improve the function of the RC, you will help to resolve a majority of shoulder problems.

We have previously posted some simple RC exercises (‘Shoulder Series Part 3 - Rotator Cuff Muscles’) and later we will share a few more advanced exercises to help you strengthen the posterior RC.


So stay tuned and our caring and friendly Chatswood or North Sydney Physio team would love to help you out, so reach out to us if you have any questions!

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