We're back to talk shoulder pain with Team Neat pal and qualified physiotherapist, Anna Clayton, for our third instalment of our common sports injuries series...
What Does The Shoulder Do
The shoulder is a joint that sacrifices stability for mobility. It allows us to reach, throw, carry, and transmit load. A vast amount of our muscles interact at this joint – our neck, upper back, chest and the small, stabilising rotator cuff muscles deeper around the ball and socket. Often, shoulder pain can be referred neck (nerve or muscle, but typically nerve) pain so make sure to get that checked if it radiates to the shoulder, elbow or hand.
What Causes Shoulder Injuries
Injuries can be triggered from an over-stretch or reach, heavy lifting or too much body loading.
Racquet sports have classic impingement movements that with repetition or inadequate shoulder strength and stability can lead to inflammation or irritation to the small rotator cuff muscles. These muscles pinch between 2 boney parts of the shoulder girdle (the arm, shoulder blade and collar bone).
Having a painful arc is a typical presentation of this; where a 90 degree sideways lift (known as abduction) and also turning the arm in can cause pain and soreness. The bursa (sac-filled cavities) in the arm that give protection between bone and tendon structures can also become inflamed. Tendinopathies can develop with overloading, restricting movement and causing a frozen shoulder.
The common causes of shoulder pain are very similar to the other common sports injuries; posture, repetition of activities, load, poor strength and stability, and muscle balance (or imbalance) around the joint.
Recovery and Prevention
The shoulder girdle can move less well if the mid upper back is stiff so mobilising this over the back of a chair or a foam roller can help.
Building up with resistance exercises, using lightweight and pain-free resistance, to increase rotator cuff strength is key for preventing injuries from occurring, as well as using functional movement and mobility and stretching work.
This blog was written by Anna Clayton: Anna works at Bury Physiotherapy Clinic as a Senior Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and has recently completed a MSc in Advanced Physiotherapy. She teaches regular Pilates classes including a Pink Pilates; specifically for breast cancer patients. At the clinic she offers patients acupuncture alongside other treatment techniques to help people back to normal day to day activities, sports and hobbies - she is all for functional movement! Anna enjoys keeping fit and active with regular running (the odd half or full marathon), occasional cycling and was a rower and heptathlete in her youth.