Shoulder Pain : Rotator Cuff Impingement Pt 1

The Rotator Cuff is made up of a group of 4 small muscles (and a 5th honorary muscle) in your shoulder.

1. Supraspinatus 2. Infraspinatus 3. Teres minor 4. Subscapularis 5. Long head of biceps (honorary mention).

This group of muscles support smooth movement of the ball and socket when your shoulder is moving.

Think of these muscles like ‘core muscles’ for your shoulder joint.

What Is An ‘Impingement’

Muscle imbalances in the shoulder can lead to pinching and damage to the tendons of your rotator cuff.

This ‘pinching’ is referred to ‘impingement’ in physio terms.

Repeated pinching of a tendon, over time can lead to inflammation and what has started off as ‘rotator cuff impingement’ can lead to ‘rotator cuff tendinopathy’.

How To Treat Rotator Cuff Impingement

The best cure is prevention. Keeping your shoulder not only strong, but very mobile (which means having full range of movement), is the best way to prevent impingement.

Rounded shoulders and a rounded upper back restrict the movement in the ball and socket of your shoulder and is often a leading cause to impingement.

This can be obviously noted where someone has an obvious rounded upper back, but it can also be less noticeable as with many gym goers.

Many men and women who frequent the gym with repeated weight lifting can become rounded in their shoulders and upper back but due to their physique, isn’t always as easily noticeable.

It’s important to correct internally rotated shoulders, stiff thoracic spines, restricted shoulder extension, forward head posture and more.

Your physios will conduct a thorough postural and shoulder assessment to determine what factors might be contributing to your impingement and work with you to correct these over time.

Other Causes Of Impingement

Impingement can also be felt after a direct trauma to the shoulder where there is guarding of movement, or swelling within the joint. This is less common but also noteworthy.

This should be a straight forward rehabilitation with it improving as the direct trauma improves with treatment.

When To Seek Help

As mentioned above, an impingement if left can become a tendinopathy.

Signs the impingement is becoming a tendinopathy are

1. the pain is much more frequent with almost any shoulder movement

2. you have pain at rest.

Usually it is much faster and easier to treat this shoulder condition at initial signs.

If you have been noticing pinching in your shoulder consistently, it’s time to see your physio.


We hope this post has helped and if you would like some help with your shoulder pain, please ring us on 8356 1379 or you can book an appointment now – click here.


Want to read more about Rotator Cuff Impingement – click here for Part 2

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