Rotator Cuff Recommendations

I came across an article a few days back on triathlete.com while scrolling through my phone in an airport (listed here: http://www.triathlete.com/2016/10/training/importance-strengthening-rotator-cuff_295647).

Ironically enough, that habit —craning over a smartphone/tablet/keyboard – is what is contributing to the increase in shoulder and neck problems for most Americans. The article describes a bit about shoulder pain and what causes it in a broad sense, but in my opinion it didn’t give you, the athlete, enough information to act upon.

“The rotator cuff is a collection of muscles that surround the shoulder joint and help hold the humerus bone of your upper arm in the shoulder socket.”

Yes, and no. That’s like saying a car is made of wheels. You get partial credit at best. Tendons, ligaments, bones and muscles all play a synchronous part in holding the shoulder together. The shoulder is a collection of 5 joints and the quality of movement between all of the tissues of the respective joints need to be managed in order to correct or strengthen the joint complex. Each of the tissues that surround the shoulder play an important role in its overall function. Living tissue is always communicating with the brain, giving feedback in real-time as it moves through space. Without understanding this, you can’t go on to correct an impingement or frozen shoulder by the standard stretch/strengthen model alone.

The point that irked me and made me want to write my first blog post in 6 months is the fact that they pass off the cortisone injection as effective treatment. It doesn’t take much effort to find that cortisone reduces swelling, but it has a dark side. Swelling is an important part of the healing process, and while we don’t want it to persist, we certainly need it. Cortisone causes weak tissue to stay weak longer. It can’t respond as well to the given movement, so another part of the joint or body takes over. This is the root cause of the repetitive injury cycle and keeps a revolving door policy at injection-happy clinics.

In keeping with today’s trends, the article has bullet-points and basic exercises at the end. We’re all lazy when it comes to reading, I get it, so I’ll do the same, but modify theirs a bit.

See a doctor. Definitely do that. I’m not one. They can take images of the shoulder and that can be useful. Surgery and injections are overrated. You need to know that there are in many cases other options that utilize your body’s healing processes much more effectively than going on the chopping block.

Take it easy. They say lay off the upper-body work. I say do better upper body work and quit being stupid about it. See more below.

Ice it. Nope. Only immediately after an injury. Otherwise you need to know how to move to get those healing fluids to the joint—that’s where I come in.

Try an NSAID. Again, I’m not a doctor. I know how to read though, and there is plenty of research that shows that NSAID’s definitely damage your gut lining. When the gut lining is damaged, the inflammatory processes that take place can cause joint pain. So, if you’re having joint pain and you want more joint pain, do that NSAID thing.

Start rehabbing. Finally a solid recommendation, but then they miss the mark. The exercises they list can help you, unless they don’t. The body and postural issues are based on the model of complexity. If multiple different areas of the body can’t work together, then neither of the parts can work correctly. Trying, for example, the “seated dumbbell external rotation” can help you if you have awareness in your shoulders and can put the shoulder blade in the right position. If you’ve been injected with cortisone, iced too much, or have rested too long, this movement suddenly becomes dangerous.

It’s best to find someone trained in how to deal with the body as a complex system. By focusing on the complication, you miss what is causing the problem. You need to know what ranges of motion and what parts of the muscle are compromised and focus on strengthening them, or else your problem will persist. I use ELDOA, Myofascial Stretching, Analytical and Segmental Strengthening, and Pumping exercises to normalize the body and remove the causes of pain. After a long and painful battle trying to find a solution for my subacromial impingement, I found that I was my own best therapist.

I can show you how to be yours. Contact me today at (281) 803-9930.

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