What is a Rotator Cuff Injury?

What is a Rotator Cuff Injury?

A rotator cuff injury is a common injury in both athletes and those who work in manual labor where heavy lifting and reaching overhead are necessary.

The injury itself is caused in one of two way. An acute injury manifests itself from a sudden trauma such as falling on to the shoulder during a routine activity or accident. Whereas a chronic injury happens over time, developing slowly after months or even years of similar, repetitive actions such as lifting or throwing.

The shoulder, like the rest of the body, is a remarkably complex system of muscles, tendons and bone that all work in perfect harmony and actually has the greatest range of motion in the entire body.

There are four major muscles in the rotator cuff that do several different tasks, but the primary tasks are to stabilize the shoulder and rotate the arm within the shoulder joint. The muscles also hold the arm firmly inside the shoulder socket.

A rotator cuff injury can manifest itself in several ways: damage to the muscle or tendon, continuous repetition or general aging and arthritis. The damage can be a strain, tear or inflammation, depending on the type and severity of the injury itself. The damage to the shoulder then presents any number of issues ranging from mild to severe pain, to limited range of movement.

Keep an eye-out for my next installment on rotator cuff injury causes due out next month.

Until next time, stay healthy, keep stretching and God bless.

Brad Walker
The Stretch Coach


  1. MRI shows two tendons have pulled 75% off the right shoulder bone. Have limited upward reach and have pain if I reach across to the left also have weakness when lifting/carrying. Was told injury was result of repeatative action…. weeding. Had no pain in shoulder during yard work that day, March 2012, or when going to bed that night but did have intense pain upon waking in the morning. I will be 90 in August and in good health otherwise. Will stretching exercises help? Any chance of the tendons, the 75%, re-attaching themselves to the bone? I’m afraid of pulling off the last 25%. Found this site via Save Our Bones Program. Great-grandma B.

    • Hi, and thanks for your inquiry.

      To answer your first question: Will stretching exercises help? No, don’t do any stretching exercises at this point of your recovery. Stretching at this early stage will only make your injury worse. That also goes for any type of exercise; avoid all exercises and stretches at this point.

      Regarding your second question: Any chance of the tendons re-attaching themselves? It’s very unlikely with a 75% tear. As a rough guide, tears of 50% or less can be easily rehabilitated without surgery. The more the tear is over 50%, the harder it is to rehab naturally. Although, I do have clients who have successfully rehabilitated tears of 75%, but the recovery process is quite long (6 to 12 months).

      In the meantime, use rest and ice to help reduce any swelling and pain. And avoid moving your shoulder and arm as much as possible. If you decide that you would like to rehab your shoulder without surgery, we have a comprehensive rehab program at the link below… http://stretchcoach.com/treat/rotator-cuff/

      Best of luck, and if I can help with any thing else please just ask.


  2. Thanks for the knowledge and skills you always share


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