Shoulder complications can be common, but most injuries are easily prevented. They are often a result of a serious muscle imbalance that places the joint in a vulnerable position.
Facts About The Shoulder:
- The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body.
- Most of us have muscles that are short and strong in the front, and muscles that are long and weak in the back.
- The bone sits in the shoulder joint like a golf ball sits on a tee (the ball of the shoulder is oversized compared to the surface it rests in). The joint sacrifices stability for mobility.
- The shoulder’s base of support/foundation is the scapula (shoulder blade). The shoulder can only be as strong as the muscles that support the shoulder blade.
- All the muscles that are short and strong insert on the front part of your shoulder.
- The muscles that are long and weak are the ones that control your shoulder blade.
- The muscle imbalance slowly causes the ball of the shoulder to move forward within its socket. As a result, the back part of the shoulder starts to tighten and you start getting more pressure on the structures in the front of your arm in the form of pain.
What causes the muscle imbalance?
- Poor Posture: With increased sedentary lifestyles and desk careers, we spend a lot of time sitting. Most of us sit with a head forward, and rounded shoulder posture for long periods of time. It’s like your mom used to say, “If you keep making that face, it’s gonna get stuck like that”. Maintaining poor posture for prolonged periods of time will result in changes in muscle length and the length of the structures within the shoulder.
- Over working the structures in the front and forgetting about the ones in the back: It is important to equally work the muscles in the back as the front. However, it is also critically important to set the shoulder blades before moving the arms at all.
- Forgetting about the little guys: The rotator cuff is primarily responsible for maintaining the head of the shoulder in its socket. All the muscles of the rotator cuff originate off the back half of your body; if they are long and weak they will be unable to hold the head of the shoulder in its place and it will slowly translate forward. Strengthening the rotator cuff is also key to preventing pain in the front of the shoulder.
- After Trauma, like a fall on an outstretched hand, hit into the boards, or a dislocation.
Your Physician may do x-rays. Once fractures have been ruled out and the severity of the acromio-clavicular (AC) joint separation is identified, your initial rehabilitation may include a period of immobilization.
Subsequently, your Nose Creek Physiotherapist will apply modalities such as Ultrasound, and Interferential Current to assist the healing. Physiotherapy will also include guidance through a series of progressive Stage 1 to Stage 3 range of motion and strengthening exercises to speed up your return to play. But recovery time varies by individual and severity of injury so make sure to follow all your Therapist’s instructions to shorten your recovery time by as much as possible.
How to Prevent Shoulder Injuries:
- Stretch the structures that attach in the front: pecs, lats, upper traps.
- Strengthen the muscles in the back: middle/lower traps, rhomboids and rotator cuff.
- Set the shoulder blades before moving the arms; give the arm a stable foundation to work off of.
- Maintain proper posture as much as possible.
How Massage Therapy Can Help:
There are many things that a Massage Therapist can help you with. This type of therapy can help your shoulder move and function the way it was meant to.
A Massage Therapist can help with the following:
- Decrease pain from trigger points.
- Help increase range of motion by loosening shortened musculature.
- Gently stretch the joint to increase range of motion.
- Break up adhesions (scarred down muscle tissue) around the shoulder.
- Encourage proper body mechanics through muscle and trigger point work.
- Promote healing by using various techniques to increase circulation and shorten healing times.
It is important to have these injuries evaluated by a Physiotherapist and Massage Therapist who can determine the appropriate course of treatment. If you manage these injuries properly, they will resolve faster, and then we can get you moving faster and feeling better.
If you are currently experiencing pain, stiffness or discomfort from a recent or old injury, give us a call at the Beddington clinic at 403.295.8590. Rebecca, our talented Massage Therapist, would love to talk with you about how Massage can improve your shoulder pain.
Blair balances his busy professional life by staying active. He enjoys cycling, swimming, working out, hiking, camping and snowboarding, depending on the season. Blair shares his free time with his wife, son and daughter outside on the weekends. He has learned to enjoy the journey, as life really is too short.
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