Your shoulder may technically be a ball-and-socket joint, but in practice it’s really more of a ball-in-a-shallow-dish socket. The “socket” of your shoulder is almost a dip, and all of the muscles and tendons that make up your rotator cuff do the work of keeping your shoulder joint together.
The providers at Orthocenter have a deep appreciation for the amazing mobility of the human shoulder — and we understand just how easily you can injure it! Whether you’ve had a rotator cuff tear or not, there are ways you can support this crucial structure and strengthen your shoulder joint.
The structure of your shoulder
Your shoulder is the meeting of your humerus (upper arm bone), your clavicle (collarbone), and your scapula (shoulder blade). Your rotator cuff is made up made of several muscles, including the:
- Supraspinatus: Holds your humerus in place
- Infraspinatus: Allows you to rotate your arm
- Teres minor: Assists with rotation of your arm when it’s away from your body
- Subscapularis: Holds your humerus to your shoulder blade
Those muscles are connected to bones with tendons. Common shoulder injuries include muscle strain or tendon issues such as tendonitis (inflammation) or tears (partial or complete). And a program to support the rotator cuff should include exercises to strengthen the muscles of the joint, along with the:
- Deltoids: Front and back and top of shoulder
- Trapezius: Upper back
- Rhomboid: Upper back
- Biceps: Front of upper arm
- Triceps: Back of upper arm
Strength and flexibility
You want to build strength in the structures that support your shoulder, but it’s also crucial to keep them flexible. If you’ve had surgery or you’re recovering from an injury, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding exercise so you build up slowly.
For most people, a conditioning program lasts 4-6 weeks, but you want to continue doing some exercises for life in order to maintain your strength and flexibility and protect your joints.
In addition to exercise …
Exercising to increase strength and flexibility is an important element in supporting your rotator cuff, but some daily lifestyle adjustments can support your shoulder joints. For example, don’t carry a purse, bag, or backpack over just one shoulder.
If you’re doing work overhead, use a stool or stepladder to avoid holding your arms above your head for too long. Also, take frequent breaks during activities that you do repeatedly.
Carry heavy objects close to your body to reduce the load on your shoulders. Avoid lifting heavy objects overhead.
Try to store things you use often in places they’re easy to reach.
Proper healing for lifelong use
Shoulder injuries can take a frustratingly long time to heal. You may feel impatient, but taking the time you need to heal properly can mean the difference between a strong, stable shoulder joint and reinjury.
If you’re concerned about your shoulder for any reason, schedule an appointment at the most convenient location of Orthocenter, in Red Bank, Morganville, and Holmdel, New Jersey. We can offer personalized tips suitable for your situation to help you protect your shoulder joint.