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Why Shoulders Hurt

01.12.2011O
Your shoulder is brilliantly designed to allow your arm to reach, grab, throw, push, pull, etc., etc., etc., but I’m sure if you have experienced shoulder pain in your lifetime you might argue that there are some flaws in the blueprints.  I have seen shoulder pain bring some of the toughest guys to their knees and frozen shoulders put women’s lives on hold for 1-2 years.  I personally, have dislocated my shoulder multiple times and eventually had surgery on it in 2001.  My shoulders and I are not friends, but I have learned how to keep my enemies close and under control.

Knowing what I know about biomechanics and anatomy, I would still have to support the idea that the shoulder is extraordinarily designed, but I would make the case that it should come with a detailed instruction manual of how to actually use it properly.  Your shoulder is a complex ball-in-socket joint that’s function is intimately tied to the posture and alignment of your ribcage and thoracic spine.  ‘Normal’ movement in your shoulder requires the ball to spin in the socket, the shoulder blade to slide over your ribcage and your torso to remain in a relatively stable position; a problem in any or all of these factors will lead to dysfunction and eventually pain in your shoulder.

It is not hard to determine what structure in your shoulder may be damaged and hurting, but it can be harder to understand why you damaged anything in the first place.  Sometimes why is easy.  You may have tried tackling a two hundred pound Kiwi rugby player determined to run through you and your shoulder lost the battle like mine did, but most of the time ‘why’ is more complex than you would like.  Shoulder pain usually involves a combination of factors that over time lead to the insidious onset of pain.

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Posted in Blog, Pain, Shoulders Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
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Dealing with Injuries as an Aging Tennis Player

Tennis
I treat a lot of the top Seniors level (35+) tennis players in British Columbia, many of whom compete in the national and world championships every year.  These are not professional athletes, but very active adults with full time jobs that work hard and play harder.  The combination of work + age + sport inevitably results in aches, pains and unfortunately injuries.

The top five things that tend to bring tennis players into the physio for servicing are:

1.  Tennis Elbow
2.  Rotator Cuff Impingement
3.  Knee Pain
4.  Torn Calf/Achilles
5.  Low Back Pain

Below I will briefly touch on some of the principles you should follow in dealing with these injuries as they relate to tennis, age and work.

Tennis Elbow

Lateral elbow pain does not necessarily follow the “if it hurts, ice it” rule.  Nine times out of ten the root cause of lateral elbow pain stems from your neck and the back of your shoulder.  It is usually an irritation of your C6 nerve root in your neck and the radial nerve in your arm…that being said, if your elbow is hot, red and swollen, go ahead and ice it, but don’t expect just ice and rest to fix the problem.  Hands down the best way to fix tennis elbow is to go for IMS acupuncture to calm down the nerve irritation.  Once the arm feels better have a physio teach you how to move more efficiently so your swing doesn’t create too much strain on your neck and shoulder.  You may also need a tennis pro to adjust your technique and/or your racquet.
Suggested articles:
Elbow Pain: why it can last so long & how to fix it properly
Why Elbows Hurt

Rotator Cuff Impingement

Most shoulder pains are some form of an impingement (which implies a pinching of one or more of the tendons of your rotator cuff). 

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Posted in Blog, Elbow, Knees, Low Backs, Pain, Shoulders Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Basic Shoulder Anatomy

Here is my YouTube video outlining the basic relevant and functional anatomy of the shoulder using an anatomical model.

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Posted in Anatomy, Blog, Shoulders Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
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