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Rotator Cuff Injuries and Benefits of Medical/Sports Massages

The Rotator Cuff injury is the most prominent of all shoulder injuries in America. There are 3 million cases of this injury every year. Understanding the inner workings of the rotator cuff injury is important as a result of this high injury rate. Knowing how to care for yourself regarding muscle health with injury-related Medical Massage and Sports Massage can benefit you greatly.

Four muscles make up what we know as the rotator cuff, the Supraspinatus, the Infraspinatus, the Teres Minor, and the Subscapularis. (See Picture Above and Below) The Supraspinatus raises your arm the first 15 degrees before the Deltoid finishes the job. The Infraspinatus and the Teres Minor rotate the arm outward. The Subscapularis rotates the arm inward (swimmers and climbers use this muscle a lot). The overall job of the rotator cuff is to stabilize the shoulder and rotate the shoulder. It does help raise the arm a bit as well. The muscle that is most often torn in a rotator cuff injury is the Supraspinatus. The pain is a deep, dull ache, which makes it difficult to do certain movements. Movements like brushing your hair or reaching behind your back, really anything that involves moving the shoulder up or back, become difficult.

The chances of injuring the rotator cuff increases as a person’s age goes up. As we age, we lose muscle mass and muscle strength as a natural part of life, so the chances of injury go up. There are some helpful hints below that will assist in the lessening of injuries now and as you age. Injuries, though, can occur as early as 14 or sooner due to sports and activities. An injury of this sort can take up to six months to heal without surgery.

Successful outcomes of treating rotator cuff injuries with massage therapy include reducing pain, increasing range of motion, and restoration of functional use of the joint. Keeping your rotator cuff muscles in good shape is important in any case, whether you are aging and your concern is with degeneration of the muscles (risk of injury goes from 13% in age ranges 50-59 to 51% at an after age 80), or your concern lies with how your muscles are reacting to being built up as a result of sports and activity. Massage therapy can assist in either case.

Benefits of massage therapy include muscle restoration after sports activity or injury, stretching the muscles to reduce chance of injury to begin with, and the flushing of toxins from the body. In the case of sports and activity, a muscle can become disproportionately large or small as a result of certain movements or workout regimens. Sports massage techniques are able to stretch and relax muscles in a way that assists in diminishing these issues. A great massage therapist will also know the inner workings of the shoulder through training in anatomy, and they will be able to give you exercises that will assist in balancing out your rotator cuff. Regardless of the issue you are having, massage therapy with a great massage therapist can help alleviate pain and assist in the recovery of damaged rotator cuff muscles. Self care is important in preventing injuries like this. Massage is a great addition to your self care regimen, but we also recommend proper hydration, regular exercise, and stretching regularly.

Summary of tips to reduce likelihood of rotator cuff injury and to assist in recovery after injury:

  • provide yourself with a regular self care regimen, warming up before activity, etc.

  • proper hydration, half your weight in ounces daily

  • regular exercise, cardio 2-3 times per week

  • stretching

  • sports massage after sports activities

  • regular therapeutic massage

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