Rotator Cuff Injuries and Exersizes to Help

 In Blog, London

This week I thought I would tell you about rotator cuff injurys as they seem to be one of the most frequent injuries in the gym and almost all of us could do with some work on them – injured or not! Rotator cuff injurys are one of the most common causes of shoulder pain that you’ll see in CrossFit. There are three common conditions that can affect the rotator cuff: rotator cuff tears, subacromial impingement and calcific tendinosis. However, most rotator cuff problems can be dealt with by simple exercise and a little foresight.

Here is a little detail about what and where the rotator cuff actually is:

The Shoulder Joint
There are three bones in the shoulder region, the collarbone (clavicle), the shoulder blade (scapula) and the upper arm bone (humerus). The scapula is a triangular-shaped bone that has two important parts to it: the acromion and the glenoid. The three bones in the shoulder region form part of two main joints: (see fig 1)

  • The acromioclavicular joint between the acromion of the scapula and the clavicle.
  • The glenohumeral joint between the glenoid of the scapula and the humerus.

There are a number of muscles, ligaments and tendons around the shoulder.

Where are the rotator cuff’s?
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that are positioned around the shoulder joint. The muscles are named: (see fig 1)

  • Supraspinatus
  • Infraspinatus
  • Subscapularis
  • Teres minor

The main symptoms are pain in and around the shoulder joint and painful movement of the shoulder. If there has been an injury, the pain may come on suddenly. Pain is worst when working overhead. This is likely to reduce strength and your range of motion.

Screen Shot 2016-09-15 at 09.12.07

Fig 1. Bones and muscles of the shoulder

So now that we have established what I am talking about, let me go over why these are so important to keep healthy and what you can do to improve or fix any problems that you may have.

The rotator cuff effectively stabilizes the shoulder joint in any movement whether that be bicep curls, push press, pull ups etc. So what you need to think of is that if you don’t train these muscles effectively you are likely to incur some form or injury due to either instability or fatigue.

My method for training these muscles is simple – work in the position of instability. If the shoulder range is poor, then mobilising and lengthening of the muscle fibres will be necessary as well as training for coordination and strength.


  • External/internal rotates with resistance

External or internal rotation can easily be achieved by bending your elbow to 90o and placing it by your waist. Then either pull your hand towards your torso for internal rotation or away for external rotation, ad resistance with either a band or weights. 5X8 @33×1

  • Scapular push ups
  • Scapular pull ups
  • Scapular overhead press

All the scapular movements are achieved by simply just working with a straight arm and focusing on only moving the shoulder blade under resistance working a reps keep of 5X5 @35×1 will work perfectly to build your shoulder stability.

These exercises are not just for those of us with shoulder injury’s. I would recommend this to anyone and everyone who wants to improve their gymnastics work and help prevent injury. You’ll probably also find that your Olympic lifts will improve. Doing these exercises a few times a week before or after class for ten minutes will make a substantial difference. Everyone in the gym should be building ten minutes of mobility and stability work into their class routine! With this type of work – a little goes a long way.


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