Shoulder Impingement: The ""You Broke It, You Fix It"" Approach
By Devin Austin, Certified Trainer
Shoulder impingement is a dynamic condition that, ‚ÄúOccurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles become irritated and inflamed as they pass through the subacromial space, the passage beneath the acromion. This can result in pain, weakness, and loss of mobility around the shoulder.‚Äù
Shoulder pain is a commonly reported issue amid both athletes and the general population with reported incidents in the latter occurring in up to 21%. Subacromial impingement syndrome accounts for approximately 40-65% of shoulder pain. So, while both shoulder impingement and pain in general present in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes and can have structural or posture and movement-related causes, if you are experiencing shoulder pain, chances are you are experiencing some degree of impingement that has manifested as a consequence of posture distortions and faulty movement patterns that have existed for some time. The neural and fascial systems involved have been adversely impacted and their elasticity has been reduced to the point of creating real and often painful limitations.
Given that you spend a lifetime developing these dysfunctions, the associated issues will not likely be resolved instantly, but spending a few minutes every day addressing these woes may ultimately help you to improve your quality of life, prevent further damage, and spare you of outrageous medical expenses down the road.
If you are someone who lives somewhat of a sedentary lifestyle and have a touch of thoracic kyphosis (excessive rounding of the spine) and a forward head posture as seen in the upper-crossed syndrome on my postural disaster page, the adaptive shortening of the shoulder/neck terrorist muscles (I made that up. Don‚Äôt look it up.) and inevitably altered muscle and joint positions leave your shoulder and scapula at a severe mechanical disadvantage that decreases the subacromial space and, over time, this could and very likely will lead to irritation, inflammation, and damage to the structures of your rotator cuff. Your scapulae (shoulder blades) become so accustomed to the forward-tipping position associated with rounded shoulders that they don‚Äôt accommodate your attempt to lift your arm up over your head, and this motion becomes uncomfortable and eventually painful. In addition, the overhead motions associated with many sports and day-to-day activities also incite repetitive compression that could potentially lead to injury. One of the things that drives me absolutely bonkers about shoulder pain is the sufferer‚Äôs inclination to round the afflicted shoulder forward and baby it. It is this precise position that found you this way, and it shit sure isn‚Äôt going to help you fix it!!!
I say all of that to say this: If you are experiencing shoulder impingement, chances are your upper body is not functioning optimally and a postural re-education, so to speak, becomes not only necessary but perhaps vitally important where it concerns preventing, reducing, and/or eliminating the pain and injuries associated with shoulder impingement, so give the following techniques a go along with the corrective routine for the turtle disaster, stop shrugging, sit/stand up straight, put your shoulders back where they belong, and feel better. You probably don‚Äôt need to replace it, guys. Just fix it.
The video moves quickly, but, whilst doing the release techniques, when you identify areas of particular discomfort, hang out awhile. Don‚Äôt position your arm in a way that incites the shoulder impingement. You can bump up against these areas, but stay away from the sharp discomfort that arises when the pinching occurs. You don‚Äôt have to undertake all of these techniques at once, and it is not guaranteed that all or any one of these are going to fix your issue, but simply try a few and see what works, and for Pete‚Äôs sake, if you spend most of your life sitting behind a desk, GET UP AND DO SOMETHING at regular intervals to prevent/reverse that excessive kyphosis. You will prevent or resolve shoulder impingement, AND you will LIVE LONGER‚Ä¶ if you treat your body right.
Devin has dedicated her life and career to studying posture and how it impacts our lives physically and physiologically. ""I work with clients with vastly varying levels of athletic ability, but posture is at the foundation of everything else we do together and enables all of my clients the best opportunity for realizing the greatest depths and breadths of their potential."" Learn more about Devin at www.daustinwellness.org
Experience: NASM-CPT, CES, PES, SFS, GFS, FNS
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