Rotator Cuff Info from WS Holistic Health

The Warm Springs Holistic Health Center provides physical therapy and acupuncture care in Warm Springs with a focus on compassion, integrity, and full-body wellness.  You can contact them at 54-777-2663.   Here is some information about your rotator cuff.

by, Alicia Oberholzer PT, DPT, OCS

Warm Springs Holistic Health

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that move and support the shoulder joint. The shoulder is often compared to a “golf ball sitting on a tee.” This analogy illustrates the large ball of the humerus (upper arm bone) resting on the significantly smaller glenoid (shoulder socket.) While the natural structure of the joint is designed for mobility, this must be balanced out by strong muscles that stabilize the joint and promote controlled movement.

The Four Rotator Cuff Muscles:

  • Supraspinatus: The supraspinatus muscle lifts the arm out to the side. To strengthen this muscle, take two dumbbells (or soup cans, water bottles, etc) and hold with your palms facing in and thumbs pointed up. Lift the weights at a 45 degree angle from your body (not straight in front of you or out to your side, but right in between.) Perform 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. You should choose a weight that is challenging and fatiguing, but allows you to maintain excellent form.

  • Teres Minor and Infraspinatus: These two rotator cuff muscles work together to rotate the arm away from the body. To strengthen this muscle group, use the same weights as the previous exercise. Lay on your side with the arm that you are strengthening facing towards the ceiling. Place a small pillow or towel under your armpit to optimize rotator cuff activation. Bend your elbow to 90 degrees. You will start with your palm facing your stomach, and slowly rotate your forearm away from your body while maintaining the 90 degree angle of your elbow. You should feel the muscles in the back of your shoulder working. Perform 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

  • Subscapularis: The Subscapularis muscle rotates the arm in towards the body. Resistance bands can be a great tool to strengthen this muscle. Start by tying a long band onto an object about 5 feet away. Face your body 90 degrees away from the attachment point of your band with the shoulder that you are strengthening first positioned closest to the anchor. Place a small pillow or towel under the armpit of the arm closest to the band to optimize muscle activation. Bend your elbow to 90 degrees and keep your arm pinned at your side. Bring your palm towards your stomach, rotating your shoulder inwards and then slowly return to resting position. Perform 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

If you have additional questions about the rotator cuff or how to work on shoulder stability, please reach out to the Physical Therapy Team at Warm Springs Holistic Health for more information. We are accepting new patients on a referral basis for both in person and telehealth appointments.



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