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Little Muscles Matter: Prevent Rotator Cuff Injury

Posted Dec 18 2012 9:46am

All around the body are tiny muscles that, while extremely difficult to isolate and strengthen, make all the difference in a truly strong body all-around.   Making sure the small connective muscle groups are in top form not only increases your fitness, but can prevent many types of activity induced injury.   Knees, shoulders, elbows and other joints are prime candidates for unnecessary injury when the right combination of strengthening is not applied.  

Key areas to focus on keeping strong for injury prevention include the hamstrings, the lower back, the quadriceps (which control the knee joint's functionality), and of course the shoulder's rotator cuff.   Even athletes or general fitness enthusiasts who engage in unrelated activities such as running, swimming, cycling and even dancing where the body is moving and twisting, sometimes in unnatural ways for unnatural lengths of time, can benefit from weightlifting.   The idea is not to bulk up, but to prevent injury.   Of course toning is welcome side effect when weightlifting, but the light weights general used for such purposes are not enough to bulk up the larger muscle groups.   Rather, with the right exercises, they concentrate on the forgotten smaller groups.  

Another benefit of weightlifting in injury prevention is to highlight imbalances.   Nearly everyone tends to favour one side of the body or the other when using various muscle groups.   It is nearly always easier for a person to throw with one arm than the other, or kick with one leg rather than the other, and the same applies to physical activities such as sport and fitness activities where it is more difficult to notice such as swimming or jogging.   Weight training easily highlights these differences by showing which side of the body has greater agility and capacity to handle excess weight.   Eliminating such imbalances greatly decreases the risk of injury by overexertion of the weak side, or conversely overuse of the stronger side.  

Focusing on the rotator cuff complex, there are four muscles on the small side that stabilise and control shoulder movements.   These are the suscapalarous, infraspinatous, supraspinatous and teres minor.   While rotating the shoulder may seem simple and natural, doing so under the pressure of weight highlights just how many muscles it takes to manoeuvre the rotator cuff tendon.   When and only when these muscles contract the shoulder will rotate in its socket.   Because these smaller muscles are often weaker than the arm muscles such as the bicep and triceps, although in close proximity, the amount of weight they are handling can be grossly imbalanced.  

To learn more about the specific exercises you can do either at home or at the gym to help prevent injuries, especially in the shoulder, it is wise to consult a fitness professional such as a personal trainer or a weightlifting coach.   This is especially true of those cross-training and lifting weights for the first time.   While you are already starting out with a great deal of overall strength, certain parts of the body may need to play catch-up.   Remember to always start on low weights and use high repetition to target small muscles, and make injury prevention a priority on the pathway to overall fitness and strength!

Articleb y Sharon Freeman who is a freelance writer who loves writing about health, injuries andmedical services.
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