Health Post – Rehab Ideas for Shoulders

This is the first post in a small series on rehabilitation ideas for of the shoulder. Shoulder instability and pain is a common complaint. I have previously posted an idea on building shoulder stability, but I will give a step by step approach to recovery of shoulder injury here.

The reason that these injuries to the shoulder joints is simple. It is a ball-in-socket joint like the hip joints, but because the socket is so shallow as compared with the socket of the hips, they are more mobile but less stable …so easily injured. Instead of bone to provide stability, there are a group of small muscles called the ‘rotator cuff’. These, along with the superficial muscles of the shoulder, as well as the muscles of the front and back of the ches hold the joint together. Rotator Cuff injuries are very common in the ‘collision sports’ such as Rugby and Rugby League so I used to make the elite players that I trained to do an exercise I called Round Worlds as a preventative measure to strengthen these muscles because they didn’t like speeding the time it takes to do the more specific Rotator Cuff exercises.

Round Worlds

I will explain this very briefly as I have gone through this exercise in a previous post. Using a small set of dumbbells, stand and do a Forward Dumbbell Raise (palms facing each other), then continue the movement with an Overhead Dumbell Fly down to shoulder height (palms upwards), lower the dumbbells to the start then complete a Lateral Dumbbell Raise (palms downwards). As previously stated, this series of movements is not a rehab exercise, but preventative but is a priority if you want to lessen your chance of this type of injury in the first place? Do three sets of between 6 – 10 repetitions of this series of movements. It works all four muscles of the Rotator Cuff as well as the superficial muscles of the shoulders such as the Deltoid muscles. See the two pictures below to get an idea but the Forward Dumbbell Raise and the negative part of the movement after the Standing Overhead Fly is not shown.

Rehab Program.

The only appropriate first step in the rehab program is to have a thorough examination by a Sports Injury Specialist physician to see the extent and exact nature of the injury. If surgery is not required (which is the case with most of these injuries), then they will give people anti-inflammatory drugs but I would suggest you use ice packs at the site of pain to augment this. Try to use this ice treatment as your primary way of getting rid of the pain rather than relying on the drugs as they have side effects that aren’t healthy. (If you know of a good Energy Therapist, this is even better! I won’t expand on this as this would need a long explanation.)

You should try to move the joint straight after the injury. This may seem to go against common sense, but I have helped people to relocate a dislocated shoulder by getting them to bend over and dangle the arm of the dislocated shoulder underneath that shoulder. By doing a very small circular movement in both clockwise directions the shoulder joint is relocated on most occasions without causing any further injury, so this is the movement you would keep on repeating if your shoulder is injured. Most people don’t want to do this, but it will release a lot of the tension from the injured muscle and help in a quicker recovery.

Increase the circumference of these circles by using pain level as a barometer. Hold onto something secure with your non-injured arm and keep your back straight when you do this. Once pain has subsided you can stand straight and do circular shoulder shrugs with your arm straight as a next phase. Follow this with Bent Arm Circles, again letting your pain level be your guide, then full Straight Arm Circles. Keep it this simple and don’t try other exercises with resistance until the pain has completely subsided. Ask specific questions of your doctor to gage how long they would expect you to recover etc. 

Just a note here that some shoulder pain is caused by a problem in your neck and is associated to that. Get a Chiropractor or someone similar to check on this if you suspect this being the case (you will have stiffness and/or discomfort of the neck).

I will go over some other ideas to strengthen this area in the next phase of the shoulder rehab program in my next Health Post…

The body is an amazing piece of equipment that has the ability to recover from anything if you let it and work on it. Don’t rely on someone else but take responsibility and control of your recovery yourself…

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