In a recent blog, I mentioned rotator cuff problems. Several days later, New York Jets star quarterback, Chad Pennington, suffered another rotator cuff tear in his prize throwing arm. To make matters worse, this is the second season in a row he has sustained a season-ending cuff tear. He just had his second shoulder arthroscopic surgery to repair the new damage and will soon be starting another comeback, which I'm certain he will make.
Rotator cuff problems are on the rise and most of them are preventable. Cuff difficulties range from tendonitis or irritation (usually from repetitive overuse) or tears (which can occur from repetitive overuse and overload, or sudden trauma). In Chad's case, he had years of overhead throwing that probably weakened the cuff and made it more vulnerable. Add to that a prior surgery leaving scar tissue that behaves less elastically than normal, then add a new sudden hit, and pop goes the cuff (and the shoulder capsule as well).
Good rotator cuff preventive exercises include very specific stretching and strenghtening, and are not part of most gym workouts. They can easily be done at home with some inexpensive elastic tubing and/or light free weights. The rotator cuff muscle group is relatively small and does not need much weight or resistance to keep it strong and healthy. Add rotator cuff preventive exercises to your routine, especially if you have shoulder issues or are involved in repetitive overhead activities (i.e. pitching, throwing, tennis, swimming, weight lifting, water polo, and so on), and avoid a trip to the operating room!