Waverley Park Physiotherapy Centre Common Injury Series Rotator Cuff

Article 4: Shoulder Injuries in Sport – Rotator Cuff Injuries

The shoulder is one of the most mobile joint in the human body.  It’s ball and socket formation with shallow socket provides almost a complete half spherical range of motion or more. However with mobility and freedom comes weakness and vulnerability.

The shoulder is held in place by a complex formation of ligaments, muscles and tendons which function to provide shoulder strength, movement and some stability. However the shoulder is still a very easily and commonly injured joint.

Rotator Cuff: The Rotator Cuff is a group of muscles which provides stability and movement for the shoulder joint.

It is made up of 4 muscles: the Supraspinatus, the Infraspinatus, the Sub Scapularis and the Teres Major.

These 4 muscles insert around the head of the humerus (the bone of the upper arm) and work together to move the arm in a mostly upward and outward position, for example, winding up to throw a ball.

These muscles are commonly injured during lifting type movements by either lifting a heavy load, or by lifting in a poor position; for example reaching into the back of the car to grab a bag.

The Rotator Cuff can also be injured during sport by taking sudden load, for example fending a tackle or breaking a fall, or through repetitive stress or use, for example, a baseball pitcher.

Once injured, the Rotator Cuff can be intensely painful and very limiting to function, often preventing lifting the arm past 90°.

This injury can often linger for months if not treated by a physiotherapist, and even with treatment can take weeks to months to ease.  A typical injury to the Rotator Cuff takes 4-6 weeks of ongoing physiotherapy before return to sport or full working/lifting duties.

Rotator Cuff injuries increase in frequency as we age, so particularly older athletes and laborers need to be careful about their techniques both on field and at work in order to minimise the potential for injury.

If you have a Rotator Cuff shoulder injury; seek physiotherapy.   Treatment can be the difference between weeks of lingering pain, or between re-injury and full recovery.

About the Author: As a physiotherapist, Victorian State Touch Rugby representative and regular weekend sports warrior, Jordan Coleman has extensive experience in the treatment of common sports related injuries.

For consultation with Jordan Coleman at Waverley Park Physiotherapy Centre call on 97950668.