The rotator cuff is four little muscles (the infraspinatus, supraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor muscles) strategically placed around the shoulder joint. They attach to the upper arm bone (the humerus) and the other bones that make up the shoulder socket (collar bone, and spine of the shoulder blade).
Rotator cuff muscles make it possible for us to swivel our arms clockwise and counter-clockwise, and lift our arms out to the side. Rotator cuff muscles also help stabilize the shoulder joint, helping to keep our arms from flying out of their sockets when they are performing an action. The stronger they are, the more capable the shoulder is of withstanding the stresses of movement in many different directions.
A good way to describe the function of the rotator cuff muscles is that they provide dynamic stability. When in good shape, they keep the shoulder joint together, while the other thirteen or so muscles around the shoulder are trying to pull the joint apart.
The sad news is, because the rotator cuff muscles are invisible to the average observer, it's easy to forget they exist. The good news is that strengthening them doesn't take much effort, nor does it take much time or equipment. The old wisdom of "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" particularly applies to stabilizer muscle groups like the rotator cuff.
The best way to strengthen rotator cuff muscles is to work the natural function of each muscle separately. No one exercise can address all the directions of motion of this muscle group. Physical therapists, athletic trainers, and personal trainers have the knowledge and ability to devise exercises that directly focus on these muscles.
Even with the best prevention program in place, injuries do happen. Pain or restricted movement is always a signal to visit a sports medicine professional. Sometimes it is absolutely necessary to keep going, even with a sore shoulder.
In a case like this, consider Mueller Sports Medicine products to help the situation. For more information on this, contact us. We're happy to help in any way we can.