Did you know that our shoulder is designed to give us the ability to be dynamic and not for true power and strength? This reason is why many suffer from chronic shoulder tightness and pain. My best analogy when restoring peoples shoulder back to normal is a juggler juggling from a unicycle. Read my article “Juggling The Juggler” to get the most out of this article. I talked about shoulder is an upside-down ball and socket joint. Think a ball spinning around a bowl that is inverted.
There are four categories that everybody should think about when training: strength, mobility, coordination/integration, and endurance. The internet is filled with youtube and articles on stretching your shoulder including the across the body
arm stretch and over the back stretch. If you are dealing with a shoulder injury, you most likely have heard about the rotator cuff muscles.
If you have shoulder pain, it is important to rehab these muscles but I find that people stop there. It is painful for me to watch people do these rotational based exercises and think this is the magic answer.
Since we are on this topic, many people are misinformed about the dosing of the rotator cuff exercises. The outer rotational motion needs to be done 2-3 times more often since there is a ratio of normal imbalances within the rotator complex. The rotator cuff is mainly an endurance based muscle group based on muscle fiber type but needs to be trained for power just in case they are called upon for work or home life situation. You cannot have the ability to do something without the training of that option which is a blend of repetition based endurance and lifting power capacity.
Now that we got stretching and strengthing out of the way, your shoulder is primarily a coordination based complex that relies heavily on everything that is connected to it: neck, shoulder blade, jaw, chest, and trunk. Yes, the jaw plays a role in shoulder health.
As a specialist in helping people feel better from the inside out approach, I would like to throw in the idea that our thyroid, liver, stomach, heart, and pelvic organs are hugely under managed. Here is an amazing case story. A swimmer reached out to me in regards to shoulder pain, and manipulating his fascial region around his stomach improved his swim by 2 minutes! This article is not about this topic because I can go on for days.
The missing piece of a shoulder care program is coordination. When a juggler needs to juggle with precision, coordination and focus are his main concern. In my video, I talk about three exercises that can add value to your program. (click on video image to watch it).
Overview of exercises.
- Finger coordination: This is hard to describe so its better to watch.
- Blossoming Flower: Slowly raise your arm up towards the ceiling but keep your elbows inwards to your hands. Slowly wiggle your hands to integrate the rotator cuff muscles more. Repeat 15-30 times.
- Infinity Loop: Place both hands together and make an infinity motion clockwise and counterclockwise. Make small and big infinity signs. Repeat 15-30 times.
- Get involved with your Pilates and Yoga Studio: a strong core is key to bulletproofing your shoulder from wear and tear. Trust me…it is very hard to age well at the shoulder. Each approach has its benefits. Pilates teaches the body to have a strong core first and progresses to dynamic arm movements around the core. Pilates approach mimics life and function. Yoga enhances flexibility, strength and body awareness. Yoga supports weight bearing movements of the upper body and this is important for pushing power.
If these suggestions did not help you after dedicating to 2-3 weeks of shoulder care (stretching, strengthening, and coordination prescription), I highly recommend you reach out to your local physical therapist. If you are in the state of California, you can directly get an opinion by a physical therapist without involving your doctor. This is called direct access and allows us to provide you a second opinion if you need answers on why your shoulder hurts today. Click on the blue button for a conversation with
Dr Ngo who is an expert in common sports injuries like rotator cuff tear and tendinitis issues… and YES you can get good shoulder care in the face of having a diagnosis of a shoulder tear or arthritis (even without surgery).
Doctor of Physical Therapist
Spine and Sports Medicine Specialist