Rotator Cuff Injury and Shoulder Pain


I mentioned that I would continue my conversation about the muscles that cause shoulder pain, other than the four rotator injuries (Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, Subscapularis).

When you think about the fact that your shoulder has more rotation than any other limb in your body, you can understand that there are a lot of muscles impacting that joint since each muscles only pulls in one direction. The other muscles that have are involved with shoulder pain are: pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, subscapularis, teres major, serratus anterior, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, levator scapulae, trapezius, biceps and triceps. Obviously there are too many to go into here in the blog as it would take too much of your time to read about them. You can have a much better understanding of each of the muscles and how to treat each of them by reading my book, Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living.

For right now, let’s talk about your latissimus dorsi and teres major muscles. Both of these muscles are used when you are bringing your hand to the middle of your back, bringing your arms together and forward (nicknamed “the handcuff muscles”), and bring your arms down from a lifted position.

The “lats” originate along your spine and the last 3-4 ribs, and they insert into a tiny portion on the bottom of your shoulder blade and onto the front of your upper arm bone (humerus). When your arms are lifted it is your lats that bring your arms back down to your side.

Your teres major muscle originates on the outside/lower edge of your shoulder blade and inserts at the front/top of your upper arm. This muscle assists your lats in pulling down your arm from the raised position.

Because they rotate your upper arm, if they are tight and you want to lift your arm up, you can’t because the lats are pulling down on the bone. You feel it as shoulder pain even though technically it isn’t.

One way you can treat these muscles is to put a tennis ball directly on the muscle and lean into a wall. If you feel a “hot spot” you’re on a spasm, just hold it for 30-60 seconds.

If you play any sport that uses a lot of shoulder movements (golf, tennis, etc.), it’s well worth the effort to learn about your shoulder muscles, and also learn how to self-treat them before they cause pain and dysfunction.

Wishing you well,


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