9 Steps to Help You Overcome a Shoulder Injury
Have you experienced shoulder pain before? Approximately 80% of the world’s population will have a shoulder injury at some time in their lives; in some sports that number is a staggering 100%! Summer is the time for more dominant shoulder sports such as swimming, cycling, beach volleyball, golf and tennis. Shoulder injuries such as labrum tears, shoulder separations, shoulder dislocations and rotator cuff tendinopathies account for nearly 20% of all musculoskeletal injuries. Those who've had shoulder pain in the past will most likely have it reoccur.
The shoulder is a ball and socket joint that has a lot of freedom to move and the only bony attachment to our torso is the sternoclavicular joint between the clavicle and sternum. All other stability and mobility is achieved through the soft tissue such as the joint capsule, tendons, ligaments and muscles. When the shoulder is injured it is difficult for people to wash their hair, put on clothes and do other daily activities never mind participate in sports.
I attended a shoulder rehabilitation workshop instructed by Guido Van Ryssegem , an Athletic Therapist and Strength Coach who’s role was once to get major league baseball pitchers to back to playing again – quickly! My role as a Kinesiologist is to use exercise and gentle manual therapies to help augment normal healing. This workshop reconfirmed some of my current practices, brushed off some cobwebs and gave me some new ideas to help clients overcome their shoulder injury.
We are connected and integrated systems. This connection is through the #fascia. Move in multiple directions to employ full range of motion daily - Alfred Ball
Take a look at some some of the high level golfers or tennis players. Their shoulders, trunk and neck move in relation to each other. Shoulder dysfunctions can be driven by the ribs and neck. Guido mentioned that around 50% of the throwing force in pitchers is delivered by their hips.
How to Overcome Shoulder Pain Successfully
Keep these nine tips in mind when recovering from a shoulder injury. Be patient and deliberate with your recovery. Seek the guidance of a Physiotherapist or Kinesiologist.
1. Assess the Trunk, Breathing and Hips
An injury to one part of our body affects how the rest of our body moves. This is why having your neck and trunk, including breathing evaluated by a professional is so important. Guido reminded us to also look at the hips because of the fascial connection from the back muscles through to the buttocks.
2. Complete Shoulder Injury Rehab Exercises Slowly
After the tissue heals, our bodies end up in “attractor” states: movement patterns that are not optimal, but that help us get the job done. Shoulder rehabilitation exercises are done slowly and often to reprogram the neuromuscular system.
3. Restore Joint Proprioception and Coordination
Joint proprioception and co-ordination is lost after surgery, thus stability patterns are not optimal. These can be retrained with a combination of rhythmic stabilization and dynamic exercises.
4. Take the Joint Back Home
Joints love to be in a neutral position (home). Home position provides a joint with optimal functional capacity. Pain and irritation often results from poor posture and awkward movements. Restore joint neutrality to reduce pain and restore function. Keep good posture in mind during daily activities and work.
5. Train Stability Specific for the Activity
Shoulder stability needs be completed in a functional range of motion. The needs of a swimmer are different from a baseball pitcher, downhill skier or figure skater. Work towards regaining the strength and mobility you need to preform the tasks you desire.
6. Train Endurance, then Strength
Focus on completing each repetition with excellent form and posture. Start with 5-15 repetitions for the first few weeks ,then gradually increase load and drop to 3-6. Add volume by completing more sets as tolerated. Fatigue is normal, but soreness that increases or doesn’t subside after 1-2 days is a sign that too much work was done.
7. Recover and Regenerate
Injured tissue does need to be challenged to increase its tolerance to work and pain threshold. However, it needs time to adapt to the new demands within the sessions and between. Use 2-4 minutes of rest between sets of exercises. Balance movement with rest or alternate a shoulder rehab exercise with a lower-body exercise and take days off between rehab sessions.
8. Develop a Strong Grip
There is a proven neuromuscular connection between the hand and shoulder. Developing a strong grip leads to a strong shoulders. There is similar connection between the feet and hips! There are many ways to exercise your grip at home as well as with inexpensive devices.
9. Strengthen the Middle Back!
Shoulder injury rehabilitation is not just about the rotator cuff. Train the scapular muscles as well in functional patterns. When done correctly, exercises like the lat pulldown and the seated row work these muscles well.
You can also use the above ideas to reduce your risk for a shoulder injury.
We use video analysis during our assessments and rehabilitation sessions to help clients understand how they are moving and the changes they need to make to restore function.
If your shoulder is bothering you or if you want to make sure it is moving optimally for your sport, you should book an assessment.