Rotator cuff and shoulder injuries are very prevalent in our society. The shoulder is one of the most mobile joints in the body, and because of this it is easily injured.
There is not 1 type of person who injures their shoulder. Everyone who uses their shoulders and arms can get shoulder or rotator cuff injuries.
The rotator cuff is made up of 4 different muscles. These 4 muscles hold the humorous (or the upper arm bone) in the shoulder joint. These 4 muscles are used whenever you move your upper arm, forearm, wrist and hand. The rotator cuff muscles help to control and coordinate fine muscle movement in your hands and fingers.
These rotator cuff and shoulder muscles get used, and over used, when you are typing, using a mouse, knitting, sewing, gardening, lifting objects, painting, writing, and the list goes on and on. Any activity that you are using your hands and arms for, you are using your rotator cuff and shoulder muscles.
With how much time we spend in front of computers as a society, it is easy to see how shoulders and rotator cuff muscles get overworked and overused. I feel that if you work at a computer for a living, then it is only a matter of time before you get shoulder issues if you do not stretch and strengthen the shoulder muscles. Overusing the shoulder and rotator cuff muscles leads to the muscles getting tighter and tighter until they tear on a microscopic level. This will send the muscles into a pattern of spasm and inflammation that can last months or even years. Working at a computer (or knitting for long periods, or anything else that you use your shoulder and rotator cuff muscles for) can also cause the scapula (or shoulder blade) to become fixed or locked into place over time because the scapula is stationary throughout these activities. This will put extra stress on the shoulder and rotator cuff muscles, causing them to get more irritated. This can also cause impingement syndrome as well.
How do you treat shoulder and rotator cuff problems? When most people hear that they have a rotator cuff injury, they usually assume that it is serious and needs surgical intervention. This is just not the case. Usually you want to treat these issues conservatively, meaning without surgery or drugs. The times when you do need surgery are if there is a complete, 100% tear in one of the muscles, or you have a bone spur or arthritis in your shoulder, or if you have a labral injury or tear. Otherwise, I feel, you will be much better off treating the problem with ice, anti-inflammatories, stretching and strengthening exercises.
First and foremost, when you injure an area, go see a health care practitioner and make sure that there are no serious issues that may need intervention. Once you get cleared to rehab the area, now you need to find the right exercises and stretches.
The article that I have attached has some great rotator cuff and shoulder stretches and exercises listed in it. So I am going to list some exercises to stay away from so as to not irritate your shoulder muscles.
First off stay away from flat bench, straight bar bench pressing. You will never have a chance to do a bench press in the real world, so it is not a functional exercise. Bench pressing increases the strength of your pectoral and chest muscles, but will not strengthen the rotator cuff and therefore overtime will cause the chest to overpower the shoulders and create shoulder instability. If your shoulder is injured, stay away from this exercise! It will prolong and irritate shoulder issues.
Do not do any weight lifting motion behind your head. This means no lat pull downs or military presses or pull-ups behind your head. It puts the shoulders in a very susceptible position for injury. These exercises are very tough on your shoulders and should be avoided.
Lastly, focus on strengthening your upper back versus your chest. There is a saying in weight lifting that your chest is for show, and your back is for power. Exercising your upper back will stabilize your shoulders and neck. You need to do some chest exercises, but do more for your upper back. Weight lifting and strengthening is all about balance. If you work one area and not to opposite area, you will create an imbalance in your body that will cause issues and injury.
So if you have a rotator cuff or shoulder injury, use some of these exercises in the attached article and use the pain free lifestyle protocol. If you exercise and stretch in the right way, you will reduce your shoulder pain, and by sticking with the exercises you will keep pain, and injuries, at bay.