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Programs / Rotator cuff syndrome

How to treat the most common form of shoulder pain

Shoulder pain’s most common cause is rotator cuff syndrome, which is due to the rotator cuff muscles being pinched - either due to an injury or prolonged wear and tear. You may be suffering a dull ache in your shoulder, especially if you sleep on the injured side. Read on for information about symptoms, causes, treatment and effective exercises.

Treat your pain with Injurymap’s tailored shoulder pain exercises. Get the app for free and start with 14 days access on us. It’s simple and easy. You can progress at your own pace - wherever you are.


Rotator cuff syndrome

Shoulder pain is often caused by what is known as rotator cuff syndrome, which occurs when the tendons in the rotator cuff of the shoulder blade get pinched.

Of all the joints in your body, the shoulder has the greatest mobility. It consists of four joints. The two largest joints are formed by the attachment between the upper arm bone and the shoulder blade, as well as the attachment between the shoulder blade and the chest wall.

The attachment between your upper arm bone and you shoulder blade consists of a very small socket and a large head. This combination gives the arm the ability to move in many different directions. From a structural point of view, this high flexibility of the ball and socket joint means a high risk of becoming destabilized. Several anatomical structures help compensate and stabilize the shoulder. These include the joint capsule, the ligament, the diaphragm and the rotator cuff itself.

The rotator cuff
  • The most common cause of pain in the shoulder is the so-called rotator cuff syndrome.
  • The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that are placed like ‘cuffs’ around the head of your upper arm bone. The function of these muscles is to stabilize your shoulder joint during movement.
  • Shoulder pain arises when your rotator cuff muscles become clamped or pinched under the shoulder bone ceiling.
  • Alternatively, pain can arise due to the muscles becoming sore and swollen from overloading.

The rotator cuff consists of four smaller muscles, which form a series of ‘cuffs’ around the head of the upper arm bone. The most important function of the rotator cuff is to stabilize the shoulder joint during movement. The shoulder blade needs to be positioned and move correctly for the shoulder to function normally.

The four muscles of your rotator cuff protrude (jut out) from the shoulder blade, slide under a bone ceiling and attach to your upper arm. Different conditions can cause the rotator cuff to be clamped under the bone ceiling, which can result in your tendons becoming pinched.


Damage to your rotator cuff is often the result of performing intense, repetitive or unusual arm movements above shoulder height e.g. when you are painting a ceiling or playing badminton. With age, your tendons weaken naturally, increasing your risk of injury.


When your shoulder is overloaded, the tendon becomes sore and swollen. This is a sign of inflammation. Your tendon can also become trapped under the bone ceiling, which results in even greater pressure being put on the tendon. In this case, your shoulder needs relief and controlled rehabilitation exercises.

Causes and treatment
  • Shoulder pain is often the result of performing intense and repetitive arm movements above shoulder height.
  • Advancing age weakens your rotator cuff and increases your risk of experiencing shoulder pain.
  • Treatment consists of relief and targeted rehabilitation exercises. Scroll down to find a sample of effective shoulder exercises from the Injurymap app.

Diagnosis and treatment


Your shoulder must, first and foremost, be relieved of all kinds of painful loads, especially when using the shoulder in its outer positions.

Rehabilitation exercises

Start by performing controlled exercises consisting of small movements. This will typically be in the form of low resistance movement exercises, which stimulate your shoulder and help it return to normal functionality.

Use the Injurymap screening tool to find out if you are ready to treat your shoulder pain with rehabilitative exercises. Get 2 weeks free access now.

As your rehabilitation progresses, you will need to put greater focus on the muscle balance around your shoulder as well as the strength and stability of the muscles controlling your shoulder blade and the small rotator cuff tendons.

Strength exercises can prepare you to cope with everyday activties’s arm loads and pressures. They help the arm and shoulder handle loads and perform normal activities involving lifting the arm above shoulder height. The best way to strengthen this area of your body is high resistance strength training.

Start Your Training Today

There is no reason to postpone the rehabilitation of your shoulder. Try Injurymap's rehabilitation program and start treating your rotator cuff syndrome today. The Injurymap app offers you a complete rehabilitation program that will lead you through the entire process gradually and safely.

Examples of good exercises and stretches for Rotator cuff syndrome:

Injurymap divides your rehabilitation plan into 3 phases

Phase 1

The exercises in Phase 1 concentrates on your shoulder injury with exercises that aim to improve the mobility ...
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Phase 2

Phase 2 The exercises in phase 2 help you to strengthen your balance and stability in and around your shoulde...
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Phase 3

The exercises in Phase 3 will help you back to normal function by improving your shoulders strength and mobili...
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