Rotator Cuff Illustration and Injury Explanations

Rotator Cuff Illustration and Injury Explanations

These rotator cuff illustrations help to diagram rotator cuff details for you.

The rotator cuff consists of four muscles in the shoulder.

They are referred to as the S.I.T.S. muscles.


Unlike the knee, which has strong ligamentous support (a ligament is a soft tissue structure connecting bone to bone), the main shoulder joint (glenohumeral “ball and socket”) relies heavily on the rotator cuff for support. Check the rotator cuff illustration for an excellent view of this.

Since the shoulder can achieve a large range of motion the rotator cuff is unfortunately susceptible to tears, tendonitis, impingement, bursitis and strains. Glenohumeral dislocations and acromioclavicular separations occur because of a large amount of stress on the shoulder. These injuries can occur from falling with an outstreched arm while playing sports such as soccer, hockey or basketball or by falling down a flight of stairs.

Although trauma to the shoulder is common in sports or falls, people can have shoulder pain without ever knowingly injuring their shoulder.

Many of these problems occur in today’s society because of poor posture. A person with rolled shoulders and a forward head carriage will likely have upper back, neck, shoulder and arm pain. Also, this posture is very stressful on the supraspinatus muscle and tendon.

Tears of this muscle and its tendon happen quite easily from simple activities such as pull starting a lawn mower, opening a heavy door or even by lifting an insignificant amount of weight.

Can chiropractic help with rotator cuff problems?



If the problem is due to poor posture a doctor of chiropractic will address this first. Bringing the shoulders and head back into a neutral position by strecthing the chest and neck muscles, is paramount. The rotator cuff cannot function efficiently and effectively with poor posture (check the rotator cuff illustration).

Stretching the chest and neck muscles coupled with strengthening exercises for the rotator cuff will surely permit you to have pain free shoulder movements. I have found Theraband resistive bands or tubing an excellent and inexpensive way to isolate the specific muscles needed to rehabilitate not only shoulder’s but many other body parts. Theraband bands and tubes come in different colours indicating the amount of resistance. For example, a lighter colour such as yellow has much less resistance than say black. Start with less resistance with excellent form and work towards more resistance as you progress.


Secondly, a doctor of chiropractic well educated in shoulder and arm function understands the proper movement patterns of the shoulder joints. For example, in order to lift the hand above your head without pain, the head of the humerus must rotate backward and drop down in the socket avoiding any impingement of the bursa and supraspinatus tendon (see the rotator cuff illustration). Therefore, finding a chiropractor with this knowledge is mandatory in order for your shoulder pain to be resolved.


Thirdly, a doctor of chiropractic will address any joint restriction (subluxation’s). Without full range of motion of all spinal and shoulder joints, the central nervous system will not function properly and thus the rotator cuff will not be able to stabilize the shoulder joint effectively and efficiently.

The “Exercises For Rotator Cuff Injury” page has some excellent exercises showing you how to incorporate Theraband bands into your shoulder rehabilitation routine.

Good luck in working towards your pain free state.

Remember, you can always contact us if you have any questions. We are here to help!

Exercises for Rotator Cuff Injury