Shoulder Injury: Management and Prevention
How do we treat a shoulder injury? Shoulders are one of the most dynamic joints in the body. They have one of the largest movement ranges of all joints in the human skeleton and are one of the most complicated integrated-joint complexes in the body. So it’s no wonder they can be so susceptible to injury.
Your shoulder movement does not stem from one joint alone. The true shoulder joint, the gleno-humeral joint, or ball and socket, is only isolated in the first stages of movement. After 50-60 degrees of movement, the other 3 joints of the shoulder girdle become involved. They are the acromial-clavicular Joint. And the sterno-clavicular and scapular-thoracic joints. These are an ‘accessory’ to shoulder movement. That being said, dysfunction in one of them can knock the whole rhythm of shoulder movement out of sync. Potentially causing pain and injury.
Here are some of our top tips and favorite exercises to prevent shoulder injury and to prepare them for upcoming sports events.
What is the best treatment for rotator cuff injury?
The ‘rotator cuff’ is a collective term for a group of 4 muscles, which contribute to the stability of the shoulder joint. The muscles all come from different parts of the shoulder blade and attach to the top of the arm. The rotator cuff also has other roles to play in the shoulder such as internal and external rotation. The ‘rotator cuff muscles’ are usually the muscles, which are affected in impingement injuries.
If the rotator cuff is weak or damaged, your shoulder is less likely to stay securely and correctly positioned in the joint during upper limb movement. This will also put stress on the ligaments and cartilage of the joint, which can lead to a variety of tears and subsequently poor movement patterns.
Adequate rest and rehabilitation are critical if cuff muscles are damaged. If an individual is to continue with brisk upper limb movements and contact sports, they are much more likely to have repeated injuries to that same arm due to the lack of stability.
When your osteopath has determined that one or a group of these muscles are weak, you can work on strengthening them individually. The cuff needs to have correct movement patterns and reasonable strength. A small weight, if any, and controlled isolated movements throughout the range of movement is a great start for a healthy and functional shoulder.
Stabilize your Movement
One of the most common attributes you see in individuals with shoulder pain is poor scapula (shoulder blade) control. Whilst lifting a weight with your arms extended, as in a push-up or ‘plank’, poor control of the muscles in your back can make your shoulder blades ‘wing’ out.
Muscles joined to the shoulder blade need to be balanced to have correct movement patterns. If imbalanced, the weaker muscles become stretched, tight and weakened further as they ‘hang-on’ to the scapular being pulled around the rib cage incorrectly.
Something simple such as seated rows, push-ups or ‘superman’ exercises can strengthen the usual suspects in poor scapular control. Your osteopath can assess this control. We do this whilst you perform a variety of specific arm movements. Which then provides us the information to create an exercise program tailored to your SPECIFIC area of weakness.
How do you rehab a shoulder injury?
Correct rehabilitation is one of the most pivotal stages of injury recovery. It can either set you back to square one by re-injuring the tissues. Or worse yet, even further back by injuring them to a greater extent.
rehabilitation is defined as the re-introduction of normal movement patterns and physical stresses through the body in order to restore normal function to an individual. The gradual introduction of movements specific to your sport is important in order to achieve these particular physical stresses.
Staggering rehabilitation is the key. If you head back to the training ground ‘all-guns blazing’, it will end in a further delay to getting back to normal. Activity in a controlled environment like a gym is best for this steady introduction. Working individual muscle groups and specific actions with slowly increasing weights is the best way to steadily return to normal function.
It sounds counter-intuitive. But resting can actually help you get back onto the playing field faster than if you push-on through an injury. If you damage a structure in your body, it will heal naturally. The body has a natural system of repair from the process of inflammation and scar formation. This process needs to be relatively undisturbed to be able to heal at a reasonable level. If it is disturbed, it delays the healing. If the healing is delayed too many times, it will be healed in a haphazard way and could become a structural weak-point in the body.
This is one of the hardest points for patients and sporting individuals to understand. This isn’t to say that you must not put any strain through your arm following an injury for the first 6 weeks. But continuing to train and play at the same intensity without rest is not going to do you any favours. If you do train at the same intensity, it will be more likely that your shoulder issue may become chronic. This may increase the risk of missing even more of your sporting season due to this ‘nagging’ injury.
Even if you don’t have a current injury, allowing adequate breaks between training sessions is important. Muscles and tissues are more likely to become torn and injured without rest. Rest periods are also important for the development of strength. It’s in these rest periods that the muscle repairs itself from the workout and increases muscle mass and diameter to cope with the extra stresses expected of them.
The importance of osteopathy
Increasing the stability of the shoulder joint, the surrounding joints and strengthening the muscles, which influence the shoulder, is the best way to avoid injury. If you do damage your shoulder, you are more likely to re-damage it as the area becomes a ‘soft-spot’. However, this shouldn’t mean the end of your sporting career. Working with an osteopath has been proven to reduce the extent of the damage. They can also reduce the likelihood of repeat injuries and the amount of potential repeat injury damage.
Book your appointment with us today and get help from our passionate Osteopaths, who are committed to helping you find lasting pain relief!
Equilibrium Sports and Spine Clinic is your local provider of osteopathy services. We offer a wide range of Osteopathy treatments to the communities surrounding Glen Iris, Malvern, Hawthorn, Caulfield, Ashburton Camberwell Kooyong South Yarra Toorak. Take care of your upper back pain by booking an appointment today!