The rotator cuff muscles consist of four small muscles that connect the scapula or shoulder blade to the head of the humerus or upper arm. Tendons from these muscles and supporting ligaments make up the rotator cuff of the shoulder. The rotator cuff functions to stabilize the head of the humerus in the relatively shallow shoulder joint. Injury to the rotator cuff results in pain and decreased range of movement. A big problem for sports related movements and activities of every day living.
Strengthening and stretching these muscles are critical for good shoulder mobility. The four muscles include supraspinatus, teres minor, infraspinatus and subscapularis. Specific Pilates exercises target each of these muscles.
• Supraspinatus abducts the arm away from the body and is active when the arm is raised
• Subscapularis internally rotates the arm and is active when the arm turns toward the body
• Infraspinatus & teres minor externally rotate the arm and are active when the arm turns out
Even more importantly, the rotator cuff muscles work to maintain the head of the humerus in the correct position during movement of the arm. The humerus needs to glide and slide in the shoulder joint. If this doesn’t occur properly, the head of the humerus bangs against the rotator cuff of the shoulder potentially causing injury.
Using the shoulder blades as an anchor, the rotator cuff muscles keep the humerus in proper position during movement. The cue “glide your shoulder blades down your back” during arm exercises is meant to stabilize this “anchor” and allow the humerus to glide and slide smoothly.
Range of motion in the shoulder is also critical to good shoulder function. Stretching is as important as strengthening. Minimum flexibility standards (as excerpted from Johnson in Treat Your Own Rotator Cuff) are as follows:
• Flexion: Lie on your back with your arm at your side and then lift your arm towards your head. All the way up by your ear is 180 degrees; Normal flexibility for men is 160ﾟ and 167ﾟ for women.
• Internal rotation: In a standing position, reach behind your back to your shoulder blades. Normal for men is 1/2 inch above the tip (or bottom) of the shoulder blade (T6) and one inch above the tip for women (T5).
• External rotation: In a standing position with your elbow bent at 90ﾟ and the arm pointing in front of you, rotate your arm away from your body with the elbow bent. Normal for men is 72ﾟ and 78ﾟ for women.
Strengthen and stretch your rotator cuff for good shoulder health to keep you performing at your maximum ability whether you are an elite athlete or just looking to improve activities of daily living. Your shoulders, spine and hips contribute to a strong Core.
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SDK Pilates is wonderful! I have been taking classes from Stephanie for a number of years and thoroughly enjoy both her Pilates and therapeutic yoga sessions. Her training as a doctor enables her to work around physical limitations and injuries and strengthen weaknesses. She has helped me immensely with chronic shoulder issues. The fun nature of the classes, the camaraderie of the attendees and the great workout make SDK classes my favorite way to exercise!
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I love the classes and instructors at SDK Pilates! Stephanie, the owner, has been a tremendous help to me with understanding challenges I face with a bad hip. Her expertise and medical background have helped me select exercises that are appropriate for me and I have learned there are still plenty of things that I can do to strengthen my body! At other places, I sometimes overdid my workouts (and hurt myself) – SDK’s instructors have helped me increase my flexibility and strengthen my body in a s…
SDK Pilates is great! So far I’ve taken Pilates classes with Steph and Nancy, and I’m looking forward to Yoga with Mark. Currently working on core strengthening, shoulder mechanics, overall conditioning, and my golf game.
I have taken yoga and Pilates classes from Stephanie for many years, and I can say that she is terrific. Her background in physical medicine and rehab makes her uniquely qualified to instruct and coach with a focus in balanced strengthening, proper alignment, and prevention of injury. I enjoy the low key environment at the studio, and have made many friends in her classes.
My experience with SDK Pilates has been outstanding. All of the instructors have been knowledgeable and welcoming. All levels of fitness and capabilities are embraced, addressed and challenged. Individual needs are seamlessly met with in the class. Every class is different and I always walk out feeling better than when I walked in. I take Pilates twice a week and wish I could take it every day!
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I have been a client of Stephanie’s for several years. What I think makes her stand out from other studios is that she was a doctor & understands each individual clients bodies. The new studio is airy spacious & calming
Pilates has been a wonderful experience both physically and mentally – it relieves stress and gets your body in a “can do” spirit to stretch and feel good. The instructors are the best and the people I’ve met in class are fun to be with. Friendships develop. I will do this forever!