We have all been there. You wake up and you can’t move your shoulder. You have pain in your shoulder that is stopping you from making your morning coffee, putting on a shirt, or washing yourself in the shoulder.
Maybe you just finished up a weekend tournament. Or you have been going hard at the gym making gains.
Whatever your story is, for some reason your shoulder is cranky. You may not know the reason - it may even seem like it just happened out of nowhere - but the shoulder is not happy.
This is a very common story I hear in the Physical Therapy profession - especially when dealing with shoulder pain! This video shows the very first step we work through.
Before you reach for the ice, pain meds, or just cry in a corner take a second to assess the situation. Is it broken? Is anything torn? Or is it just angry? Obviously, this won’t be the best approach for a broken bone, so don’t even try it. Best bet - schedule an assessment (book a Physio Eval with us or with someone else who can assess the shoulder) to understand exactly what is going on. You will either get answers and treatment or you will get advice on what your next steps should be.
Our very first step to relieving pain is to get it moving. I know, the reason you are reading this is because you can’t actually move your shoulder very well. So the absolute last thing that you want to do for your shoulder pain is shoulder exercises. I know. I’ve been there.
So here’s the catch - we are going to move the arm without actually using the shoulder muscles.
Because in many scenarios, the muscle activation drives the irritation and shoulder pain. Yes, we need muscle activation, but sometimes that extra workload or compression through the joint is too much and causes the body to express the “pain” sensation. This is the problem I often hear! So how about we take away the active control and just passively move the shoulder?
Moving the shoulder without using the shoulder does 2 things-
1. Movement increases blood flow. Blood flow bring in healing nutrients and factors. That’s the obvious one.
2. Movement shows the body that there is nothing significantly damaged. Often, pain is provided when the body even thinks that there is harm being done. BUT, the amount of pain does not equal the amount of damage (paper cuts are a GREAT example of this). Even when there is no actual damage to tissue, the body will provide an unnecessary pain sensation when it feels threatened. Why? Because we don’t like pain and we stop when we feel pain. So the body’s natural defense when it feels threatened is to provide a pain sensation so that we stop moving. But since there is often limited or no actual damage being done, we need to almost trick the body. The goal, then, is to move the body in a non-threatening manner to ramp down the overactive pain/defense mechanism. Less threat = less defense = less pain = greater movement and healing.
That’s why we start with these simple exercises. We just want movement. Not a lot in the beginning, but enough to calm down the entire system.
So, check out that video and let us know how else we can help. If you want more help, feel free to book a Physio Eval with us so that we can evaluate the condition, create a plan, and get you started back to unrestricted training and activity.