The Rotator Cuff in St. Charles IL

The Rotator Cuff in St. Charles IL

The Rotator Cuff in St. Charles IL

I have heard it called the "rotor cuff", "rotor cup", "rotary cuff", "rotator cup", and many other combinations of unrelated words. The fact that patients in St. Charles IL are often unsure what it's actual name is (rotator cuff) screams very loudly that there is a wide-spread lack of understanding of a critical part of your shoulder. With all of the confusion out there, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get to know your shoulder(s) better.

Before we dive in too deeply, think of all the joints in your body. Think about how much movement each joint has. Some joints act as hinges, only moving forward and back (elbow or knee), while others move in larger ranges of motion, such as the hip and shoulder. As a general rule of thumb, the more motion a joint has, the less stability it has. It is a tradeoff.

Alright, lets dive in.

What is the rotator cuff in St. Charles IL?

The rotator cuff is actually a group of 4 muscles. Each of these muscles, the Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres minor, and the Subscapularis have individual functions on their own, but function together for one purpose, STABILITY. These SITS (first letter of each muscle) function together to compress, depress, and stabilize the "ball" of the humerus (arm bone) into the "socket" glenoid fossa. So although these muscles all have specific motions by themselves, collectively, they actually function to prevent motion (and increase stability).

The challenge of stability
In a healthy shoulder, not only is there movement at the gleno-humeral joint, but the scapula (shoulder blade) moves. Even the most basic movement requires the coordinated movement of MANY muscles. The rhomboid, levator scapulae, trapezius, anterior serratus, rotator cuff (all 4 muscles), and other muscles must function in a normal pattern to function normally and prevent injury. At times, these muscles may not function properly. One or more of them could be weak, tired, or simply not getting the message from the brain. Regardless the reason, when these muscles are unbalanced or act uncoordinated, it leads to instability, and eventually injury. It is estimated that nearly 70% of people with decreased shoulder stability will end up with rotator cuff problems.

How does the injury actually occur?

Let assume that there is an imbalance or lack of stability in your shoulder. Just because it exists, life goes on - you still have to use your shoulder. As you continue with your life, that ball from your ball and socket joint begins to move. As it moves, it begins to compress things. It compresses ligaments (most often the supraspinatus muscle), which leads to inflammation, more pain, further dysfunction, and eventually, serious damage. This "compression" is what is often referred to as impingement. If impingement continues, it will likely end up with a rotator cuff tear.

The ticking time bomb

If you think about what you do with the majority of your day, you will likely realize just how "unbalanced" your life is. Remember, the shoulder doesn't function properly unless it is balanced…

  • Sitting at a desk for work OR school - internal rotation and flexed
  • Driving - internal rotation and flexed
  • Using a mouse or computer - internal rotation and flexed
  • Texting on a phone - internal rotation and flexed
  • Sitting on a couch watching tv - internal rotation and flexed
  • Or even reading a book - internal rotation and flexed

Now, I challenge you to think of ANYTHING you do throughout the day that is the opposite to this internal rotation and flexed position. So you can see the lack of balance. Essentially, society makes us all ticking time bombs. To keep our shoulders healthy, it takes a conscious effort to balance out our usual one sided lifestyle.

What can you do?

First thing is first, if you already have shoulder pain, get it checked out. Having someone with a trained eye look at your shoulder and the way you function could save you months of discomfort, and even prevent surgery.

If you don't have pain, you are not out of the woods yet. Here is a short list of things you can do to help PREVENT the explosion of the above-mentioned "time bomb."

  • If it hurts your shoulders, avoid it. And don't work through pain.
  • Move around during the day. Check your posture.
  • If you must sit, perform postural breaks (a link will be added to show Bruggers postural break)
  • If you do a push exercise, follow with a pull exercise (remember…balance). If you work your front, follow with your back. In fact, try to do more pulling than pushing - about a 2:1 ratio if possible.
  • Don't be afraid to skip shoulder day. Between other exercises, the shoulders get plenty of work.
  • As much as possible, alternate which hands you use for daily-life tasks, such as brushing your teeth. Something this simple helps with coordination.
  • Be cautious with explosive overhead lifts.
  • If your shoulder already hurts, get it checked!

Performing the Brugger's Relief Position:

If sitting:

  • Sit or perch at the edge of your chair. You should feel the "sit bones" just around where the top of your legs meet your butt cheeks.
  • Hold your head up high. Imagine a string fixed at the crown of your head pulling you toward the sky.
  • Spread your legs slightly apart to the sides
  • Turn your legs out slightly
  • Rest your weight on your legs and feet and relax your abdominal muscles
  • Tilt your pelvis forward and raise your breastbone up.
  • Turn your hands palms-up
  • Turn your arms slightly outward
  • Hold this position and take deep "belly" breaths for 10 seconds

If standing:

  • Stand tall and proud with head held high
  • Spread your legs slightly apart to the sides
  • Turn your feet outward slightly
  • Draw your belly in slightly toward your spine
  • Tilt your pelvis forward and raise your breastbone up
  • Turn your hands palms-up and your arms slightly outward, with the arms somewhat raised from your sides
  • Hold this position and take deep "belly" breaths for 10 seconds

Contact Fox Valley Chiropractic Physicians today.


6:30am - 11:00am
4:00pm - 6:00pm


6:30am - 11:00am
3:00pm - 6:00pm


6:30am - 12:00pm

Saturday & Sunday

Fox Valley Chiropractic Physicians

1750 E Main St Ste 60
St. Charles, IL 60174

(630) 377-8844