I have had several clients in lately with shoulder pain, so I thought I would talk a little about the rotator cuff. The four muscles that we consider rotator cuff muscles have the job of holding the shoulder joint and the scapula in place and has several important functions including the motion and strength of the shoulder. In anatomy, the rotator cuff is a group of muscles and their tendons that act to stabilize the shoulder and allow for its extensive range of motion. Of the seven scapulohumeral muscles, four make up the rotator cuff. The four muscles are the supraspinatus muscle, the infraspinatus muscle, teres minor muscle, and the subscapularis muscle. Rotator cuff tears present themselves as: a dull ache in the shoulder, pain when lifting the hand, like when combing the hair, pain that disturbs sleep, pain in the shoulder along with weakness. If you have any of these symptoms the first thing you should do is see your doctor.  Small tears in the rotator cuff muscles do take a long time to heal and large tears may require surgery.  What causes tears? It can be an injury such as a fall where you catch your fall with your hand or arm.  Or it can be caused by repetitive activities or even aging with the degeneration of the tissues.  How can massage help?  Only after a doctor has made sure that the rotator cuff issues do not require surgery should you see a massage therapist.  Massage can help reduce inflammation and help loosen muscles if the problem is an imbalance of the muscles.  If surgery was required, massage can help with scar tissue once it has healed, but can also relieve the pain of the surrounding supporting muscles from having to be in a sling and holding positions during that recovery period.  So, don’t be afraid to get massage, just make sure you inform your therapist as to where you are in your healing process and make sure you get permission from your doctor.

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