Do you get pain when you lift your arm to the side? Or pain when rotating the arm so the palm faces to the ceiling? How about pain when taking the arm behind your back. If so you may have a rotator cuff issue. The great news is Pilates can help 🙂
The rotator cuff comprises of 4 muscles that go from the scapula to the humerus. These 4 muscles are the subscapularis, the supraspinatus, the infraspinatus and the teres minor.
The muscles work to lift the arm out to the side (abduct) and to stabilise the humeral head when the arm is abducted. They also have a role in keeping the head of the humerus in the correct position so prevent your shoulders from rounding. So if you have rounded shoulders your rotator cuff probably needs strengthening!
Movements that involve the rotator cuff muscles are brushing the back of your hair, back handed racket sports, overarm throwing and reaching behind ie, into your back pocket, or in my case I’m often reaching behind into a child’s car seat to pass something, or pick something off the car floor!
How to help rotator cuff issues:
Work in a pain free range – make your movements smaller so it does not hurt! Pain is a signal from the body that you need to stop and continuing can make it worse.
Quality of movement – think about how your shoulder blade is working. How does it feel, sound and look. Get it checked out by your GP, physio or Pilates instructor if you are not sure.
Slow down the speed of exercises to get the movements right and stay connected so you are thinking about the movement the whole time.
Exercises to strengthen:
Start with the elbows close to your side, palms up to the ceiling, core engaged, good alignment.
As you breath out, open the arms to the side, they may go to a right angle (mine don’t!), keep the elbows close to the body and keep the shoulder blades down in the back.
Floating arms to side:
Start in a neutral alignment, shoulder blades down in the back, core engaged, palms face in.
As you breath out lift the arm with it passing out to the side of your body, coming in an arc to the ceiling. Keep the shoulder blade in position the whole time.
Your end position. Now breath in and lower the arm back down.
Single chicken wing:
Start with the arm lifted to ceiling, shoulder blade down in the back. As you breath out bend the elbow letting the shoulder blade slide down in your back. Breath in to return to the start.