Sports physiotherapy for rotator cuff tears is one of the many expert services Loftus Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation provide in Perth. Your physiotherapist knows that a rotator cuff tear can wreak havoc on an athletes career, and that left untreated, this type of injury usually worsens and interferes with basic functional activities. The complexity of a rotator cuff tear usually requires radiological confirmation for an accurate diagnosis. Depending on the severity of the tear, your physio and surgeon will either recommend surgery, a program of sports physiotherapy for rotator cuff tears, or a combination of the two.
What Is the Rotator Cuff and How Does It Work?
A basic understanding of the movement mechanics of the rotator cuff will help you be an active participant in your treatment. The rotator cuff is a network of muscles and tendons, called the subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus and the teres minor. This important network supports internal and external shoulder rotation, while stabilizing the ball of the shoulder (humerus bone) within its socket.
What Type of Athlete Is Susceptible To Rotator Cuff Tears
You need not be an athlete to experience a rotator cuff tear, but athletes involves in throwing and lifting sports are most susceptible. These include:
- Tennis Players
- Power Lifters
- Baseball Players
The Stability/Mobility Conundrum
The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body, but it is this very mobility that puts the shoulder joint in a tenuous position. As mentioned, the rotator cuff takes responsibility for movement control and movement facilitation. Rotator cuff tears sometimes result from this conflict between shoulder mobility and shoulder stability. Therefore, when prescribing a program of sports physiotherapy for rotator cuff tears, your physiotherapist will perfect a balance between flexibility and strength-training exercises.
What Is the Mechanism of the Injury?
In general, a rotator cuff tear results from:
- Overuse: Sports with repetitive movement patterns such as tennis and golf may trigger rotator cuff injuries. Your physiotherapist might prescribe a sports physiotherapy program consisting of strengthening the muscles that your sport neglects, and stretching the overused muscle groups.
- Misuse: Incorrect form might eventually cause rotator cuff tears. The use of the lat pulldown machine is the most common culprit. Many people still pull the lat pulldown bar behind their necks, as opposed to the correct method of pulling it down it front of the chest. This puts enormous wear and tear on the rotator cuff. With your sports physiotherapy program you might perform some supplemental personal training and/or Clinical Pilates sessions, in order to teach you the correct movement mechanics.
- A sudden blow to the joint: In this case, if severe your physiotherapist might consult with the sports doctor for the best course of sports physiotherapy treatment.
The Course of Treatment
Physiotherapists usually divide a sports physiotherapy program for rotator cuff tears into two or three stages. Progression from one stage to the next depends on the healing mechanisms of the individual patient, as well as the patient’s willingness to perform the exercises at home. The first stage involves static and dynamic flexibility exercises. Dynamic or active flexibility is flexibility in motion, such as swinging your arm in a pendulum movement.
The sports physiotherapy program introduces strength training in the second phase of treatment. The third and final stage of treatment involves plyometric-type exercises, such as tossing a weighted medicine ball and diagonal movement patterns. In addition to your therapeutic exercise program, your physiotherapist might perform a postural analysis using PosturePro, to determine whether habitual postural misalignment increased your susceptibility to a rotator cuff tear.
Your physiotherapist might use equipment such as elastic resistance bands, light weights, cable machines and stability balls for your treatment. Fortunately, the clinic’s location at the Loftus Sports Centre makes it easy for you to use this type of equipment to continue your therapeutic exercise program and prevent re-injury.