Because the Rotator cuff muscles are located on the scapulae, any rotator cuff exercise should include awareness and positioning of the shoulder blades.
But in addition, since the shoulder blades can be anchored on the ribcage, these exercises should also include awareness of the spine (including the cervical spine or neck) and ribcage.
Note that some of these exercises are derived from dance of shiva movements.
Your shoulder blades "float" on the back of the ribcage.
Muscles that attach the scapulae to the ribcage include:
These muscles can be used to move the scapulae relative to the ribcage.
They can also be used to stabilize it relative to the ribcage.
Each scapula is in turn connected to the humerus (the upper arm bone) via the following muscles:
The first four of these muscles constitute the rotator cuff. Their tendons attach high up on the humerus close to the "ball" of the shoulder joint.
The teres major, with its tendon inserting further down the arm bone isn't included in this group even though it shares a similar name.
Other muscles that attach the scapulae to the arm bones include
Note that both the triceps long head and the biceps both attach to the bones of the forearm (the radius and ulna.)
Of all the muscles that cross the shoulder and attach the scapula to the humerus, the muscles of the rotator cuff are closest to the shoulder joint itself.
The subscapularis attaches to the front of the humerus. When it contracts it rotates the humerus internally (causing the front of the upper arm bone to roll inwards.)
The infraspinatus and teres minor both attach to the back of the upper arm bone. When contracted they rotate the upper arm bone externally.
The supraspinatus attaches to the side of the upper arm bone near the top. When contracted it abducts the arm pulling it out to the side.
When all of these muscles are contracted together so that the work against each other the feeling can be like you are tightening or squeezing the shoulder joint. You could also think of this action as "pulling" the arm into the shoulder socket.
An important consideration when doing Rotator cuff anatomy is the myofascial meridians that run down the front and back of each arm. These meridians link the individual muscles of the arms in four "anatomical trains", two running down the front and two down the back of the arms. Anatomy Trains is a name coined by Thomas Myers to describe the myofascial meridians that link lines of muscle.
The four "anatomy trains" that run down the arm are :
The deep front arm line runs from the thumb and includes the biceps and pectoralis minor
The superficial front arm line includes the wrist flexors and links to the pectoralis major as well as the latissimus dorsai and possible teres major.
The deep back line attaches from the little finger, and includes the triceps, rotator cuff muscles, levator scapulae and rhomboids.
The superficial back line includes the trapezius, deltoids and forearm flexors.
Other anatomy trains that maybe important are the spiral line (since it contains both the serratus anterior and the rhomboids as well as the spinal erectors) and the lateral line (which includes the sternocleidomastoid, levator scapulae, intercostals and obliques.)
Both of these latter two lines tie the shoulder blades to the torso but also contain muscles that are used in lengthening and stabilizing the torso.
When doing Rotator cuff anatomy it is important to realize that the rotator cuff muscles are part of a system of interlinked muscles and so they may be exercised best when the whole arm (as well as neck, ribcage and spine) is positioned and used with awareness.
This doesnt' have to be as difficult as it may seem.
Learn how to use Friction to improve leg and arm strength.
Simple exercises with easy to follow instructions
Making difficult poses like Chaturanga Dandasana easier to learn.
Learn Your Body with
Frictional Arm and Leg Strength
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Your iphone needs power in order to sense your touch. Proprioception needs muscle activity in order to sense your body.
Some simple exercises so that you can work towards the pistol squat gradually.
Arm supported yoga poses can be used to strengthen the arms and shoulders. Includes plank, chaturanga dandasana, downward dog, dolphin pose, side plank, wheel, reverse plank, table top pose.
This sequence of seated yoga poses includes lotus and virasana variations, janu sirsasana and marichyasana variations as well as more basic seated poses like bound angle, pigeon and seated forward bend.
These hip flexor stretches open up the fronts of the hips and can be used as a preparation for front to back splits. Bent knee hip stretches can be used to focus on rectus fermoris.
Strengthen your hands, your arms, glutes and hamstrings with these standing forward bend variations.
The small actions in this standing psoas stretch can be used to stretch both the upper and lower fibers of the psoas muscle.
Variations of the standing psoas stretch that use the same basic actions.
Here's a break down of the steps of Ashtanga Yoga Surya Namaskar A to make this sun salutation easier to learn and remember.
A reclining psoas stretch I learned from a Richard Freeman Workshop. The better you understand your anatomy the easier it is to work on your body effectively.
The hip stretches included on this page can be used to stretch and improve flexibility of the hip flexors, hip extensors, adductors and abductors.
Friction and pressure are two simple techniques that I use to help my students get stronger and more flexible. These simple techniques also offer a roadway into not only learning how to activate your muscles, but getting a feel for them and your body. Three challenging yoga poses that I use these techniques in are chaturanga, front splits and side splits. While they might not help you get all the way down into the splits, they'll help you feel stronger, and more integrated as you work towards them. And because I've got to pay for my daughters schooling this week, I'm offering a discount on the frictional muscle control videos. (First 100 people only can save over 30%).
Active stretching teaches you muscle control to not only improve flexibility but also body awareness. You'll learn how to adjust postures for better feel as well as more control through a broader range of motion.
Standing exercises for low back pain plus anatomy that can affect the low back and how to use that anatomical understanding.
Experience your body (and understand it) with sensational yoga poses.
Is it a bad idea to heel strike while barefoot running? What are the possible benefits of heel striking? When should you not heel strike?
These yoga poses for abs work on the abdominal muscles (and hips) in both standing positions and seated positions.
Here are the Ashtanga Standing Pose Vinyassas, with inhale movements highlighted in red.
Single joint hip flexors include iliacus, pectineus, obturators, gemelli and gluteus minimus. Use them to help improve your forward bends.
In this preparation for compass pose use your arms to pull your leg towards you for a seated hamstring stretch. To modify, use a strap.