Steven Tran – Sydney CBD Chiropractor
Shoulder pain is something that many of us suffer on a daily basis. Some shoulder pain can come from an acute injury or and a longer standing overuse injury. Often we ignore shoulder pain and do nothing about it; this is definitely the wrong attitude to have.
So what options do I have if I have shoulder pain? First lets understand what is the purpose of pain? Why is it important to move after a shoulder injury? What happens if you don’t move after an injury? What are some ways that you can modify your training to keep you active? In this article we will breakdown the process that occurs after an injury and how keep active and train around pain.
Pain is an important warning sign from your body, to indicate that there might be something wrong. However, this is not a sign to completely avoid movement and exercises. In fact, exercises could actually help your symptoms depending on the type of pain you have. If you consider a rotator cuff strain or shoulder ligament sprain we experience acute pain and it may distressing. Our body’s natural response in this situation is initially to tense up and restrict movement, in order to protect the injured area. This protective mechanism usually last 24-48 hours but can be unhelpful long term.
Yes. Movement can be an important part of your healing process and getting back to pre-injury activities/exercise. The idea is not to move enough to cause pain, but to move in very small ways. Start with small motions and build up to bigger and more functional movements. If small motion cause pain regress to passive motion. Passive motion is where you are moving a body part without actively contracting the muscles of that area. An example of passive motion is using your uninjured arm to gently push/pull your injured arm through gentle ranges of motion – aiming for a stretching sensations but not pain.
There is significant research that suggests exercise is an essential component in the treatment of pain. Exercise and movement helps improve function and reduce pain in people with musculoskeletal pain.1
So what happens when you don’t move?
In an acute phase of your injury, the focus is to move slowly, carefully and without placing great resistance or load on the area. This may mean returning to the basics in the gym and decreasing the load (weight, distance, intensity) you are used to training at. We encourage movement early in your healing process to avoid our brain creating poor movement patterns, muscle imbalances, overload and increased pressure on joints. Be aware that in your acute phase of healing it is easy to aggravate your symptoms if you try to return to quickly to certain movements. Common sense is important in this stage – remain mobile but don’t push yourself through exercises or movement which are overly painful. If you’re not certain what movements are encouraged for your new injury consult your health professional for the best advice.
Not in the acute phase? Suffering from nagging or longer lasting discomfort? If pain is still affecting the way you move consider visiting a health professional such as a physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopath. They can diagnose you appropriately, formulate a treatment plan and advise you best on how to return to exercise and movement in as safe as possible manner. Restoring your range of motion, building strength and correcting your movement patterns. Once you have mastered the basics you can build up to more complex exercises and add variety to your work-outs.
If you have shoulder pain and are
trying to to get back into exercise consider altering range of motion, specific
exercise selection, differing contraction types, body position, rest time,
frequency, weight and rest.
However, if pain is still limiting your daily activities, training regime or you are unsure when to get back into exercises, speak to your chiro, physio or osteo to find the right modifications for you to get you back on track.