tendons are often
overlooked when it comes to shoulder anatomy. Tendons are not as flashy
as muscles...most people don't even think about the tendons when they
are working out or lifting weights.
attach muscles to bone. They are the connective tissue that keeps
musles working. And there are a lot of tendons in the shoulder. Rather
than talking about all of the many tendons in the shoulder, lets look
more closely at the ones that are most commonly injured. After all,
thats why you are here.
rotator cuff is the most well known group of muscle in the shoulder.
This is what you think about and hear about when you talk about
shoulder injuries. Most rotator cuff injuries occur within the rotator
The rotator cuff tendons attach on
the edge of
the humerus, coming from the muscles on both the front and back of the
shoulder. They are placed in a somewhat precarious position because
they wrap around the top of the humerus. This position leads to a
decreased blood supply in the ends of the tendons, what your physician
may refer to as the "Watershed" area. This lack of good blood flow can
cause an increase in potential injury.
long head of the biceps tendon attaches at the shoulder. The short head
attaches here too, but I will talk about that one next.
biceps long head tendon runs along the humerus, through the bicipital
groove, and over the top of the humerus to attach on the scapula. This
tendon actually attaches into the glenoid labrum (cartilage of the
shoulder). This specific attachment makes it susceptible to injury.
the biceps long head tendon moves over the top of the humerus, it makes
a sharp turn to its attachment point. This turn, at the bicipital
groove leaves the tendon vulnerable to lots of stress. Biceps
tendonitis is a common shoulder tendon sports injury, and it usually
occurs there, where the tendon runs through the groove, on the front of
The biceps long head may also be
involved in labral tears, specifically SLAP lesions, where it attaches
into the glenoid labrum.
every muscle has a tendon that attaches it to the bone. I could spend
all day explaining every tendon in the shoulder, but the fact is that
most of the other tendons are not injured frequently. This is because
their attachments are not under stress like the ones mentioned above.
Here are a few more shoulder tendons, along with their attachments:
attaches to coracoid
attaches to humerusPectorailis
attaches to anterior
attaches to acromion and
not an all inclusive list, these muscles are the most commonly injured
and most well known in the shoulder. They are also the muscles that are
implicated with shoulder injuries like impingement syndrome, and so
they play a role in sports injury.
tendons are extremely important in shoulder function. They attach the
muscles to the bones and make the shoulder work. Shoulder tendons like
the rotator cuff and biceps long head are more susceptible to injury
because of the way they attach, and the decreased blood flow in this
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