The ro­ta­tor cuff, ex­plained

Yoga Journal - - Practice Well -

Sur­round­ing the gleno­humeral joint is the ro­ta­tor cuff, a group of four mus­cles that help ne­go­ti­ate the po­si­tion of the humeral head within its socket. These mus­cles orig­i­nate from dif­fer­ent land­marks on the scapula and latch onto the head of the humerus. They are:

SUBSCAPULARIS (NOT SHOWN) Lo­cated on the front side of the scapula; helps you in­ter­nally ro­tate the arm

SUPRASPINA­TUS Lo­cated on the top side of the scapula; ini­ti­ates ab­duc­tion, or the lift­ing of your arm out to the side

INFRASPINATUS The big­ger mus­cle on the back sur­face of the scapula; ex­ter­nally ro­tates the arm bone and sta­bi­lizes the shoul­der joint

TERES MI­NOR The smaller mus­cle on the back sur­face of the scapula; ex­ter­nally ro­tates the shoul­der

To keep the ro­ta­tor cuff mus­cles in­jury-free, it’s cru­cial to sta­bi­lize the en­tire shoul­der gir­dle when you place weight on your hands—like in Plank Pose, for ex­am­ple. In an ef­fi­cient Plank, the body re­cruits mul­ti­ple mus­cles to sta­bi­lize the shoul­der gir­dle. Two key mus­cles that sta­bi­lize the scapu­lae against your rib cage at the ScC joints are the ser­ra­tus an­te­rior mus­cles (which pro­tract the shoul­der blades, pulling them away from the spine) and the rhom­boids (which re­tract the shoul­der blades, pulling them to­ward the spine). While the ser­ra­tus an­te­rior and rhom­boids have op­pos­ing ac­tions, they work to­gether to help keep your scapu­lae from wing­ing off your back and wreak­ing havoc on the rest of your shoul­der joints and mus­cles.

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