Common Sports Injuries – Part 2 – Rotator Cuff Injuries

Common sports injuries – 3 parts by Mary Thornton BSc Hons MCSP HPC

The rotator cuff is the name given to the deep stabilising muscles around the shoulder joint .

It consists of the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis. Occasionally overuse or trauma of the shoulder joint can result in straining anyone of these muscles causing pain.

The symptoms may present as a specific tenderness in the shoulder or you may be aware of more widespread aching further down the arm or up towards the neck and upper shoulder region. Movement may be limited and in the severe case of muscle rupture the inability to raise the arm out to the side of the body.

During sport these symptoms are often related to overuse or reaching during racket sports but can also be affected by netball, swimming, kayaking or even from using weights. It will often be a result of poor technique during the activity. For example during racket sports if you do not move the upper spine with the arm during serving you may over stretch the arm to give you more power during your serve resulting in straining of the rotator cuff.

If you suspect you have a rotator cuff injury consult your GP or Chartered Physiotherapist to determine extent of injury and relevant treatment needed.
To prevent reoccurrence get your technique checked by a qualified trainer to ensure you have optimum technique. This may require you to train the shoulder joint in controlled small ranges of movement to help stabilse the rotator cuff as well as developing good control throughout the full range of movement needed for your sport.

Prevention tips:
• Check sporting technique
• develop control in rotator cuff
• work on upper body posture; shoulders down, chest up • maintain rotational movement in upper spine
• warm up appropriately for activity

Post Author: Mary Thornton

Mary Thornton BSc Hons is a Chartered Physiotherapist & director of The Clinical Pilates Studio in Eastbourne. She also runs teacher training workshops in many aspect of Pilates and movement reeducation.