Help! I have pain when I move my shoulder. Rotator cuff care.

Why am I holding peas?

Before we get started if you have a shoulder injury click here to find out what is the cause before moving on. If you are suffering with shoulder pain, it is always a good idea to let a professional have a look at it before trying to fix it yourself.

Shoulder pain can come because of a direct injury or can be due to overuse. One of the areas susceptible to these injuries is the rotator cuff.

Stretching and tearing your rotator cuff is never fun. It can limit overhead movement, stop you sleeping, and without a doubt be very painful. In this blog we will be looking at:

  • how these injuries happen
  • what you can do to prevent them
  • what to do if you are in pain

How do these injuries happen?

Tears to the rotator cuff can occur due to repetitive over head motion, through injury or trauma. They can also occur due to degeneration which can happen though the aging process, poor nutrition, and obesity.

How can I prevent injuries?

Preventing tears is as simple as adequately warming up before exercising. Warming up is not just about blood flow, it is also about priming your nervous system to be reactive, coordinating your movements and greater accuracy firing your muscles together. This is especially important when playing sports where you must react. If you are playing contact sports make sure you have the appropriate protective wear and make sure it is fitted.

What should I do if I am in pain?

Now even if you do all the above, sometime we can still lift too much, move too quickly or just have an accident and end up with a tear. We can speed up recovery by using the PRICE protocol immediately after the injury (protect, rest, ice, compress and elevate). Temporarily avoid the anything that aggravates the injury and avoid a premature return to activity as this can result in a chronic tendinopathy.

We also want to start pain free passive exercises and stretches and moving gradually onto active ranges of motion. Below is a sample shoulder strengthen routine for stretches, Have a look out for my next post about shoulder impingement which will contain a bunch of stretches. I am using a tin of peas in this demonstration but you may wish to use weights, bands, jugs or even other tins. If any of the following movements cause you pain, remove it for at least a week before attempting it again.

Start with a very light weight, your arm may even be heavy enough. Here, I am using a tin of peas for a little added load.

Two positions to strengthen the rear of the shoulder.

Two positions to stimulate the external rotators.

Here is some internal rotation stimulus.

Finally, another motion stimulating the rear of the shoulder.

How much should you do? Well that is impossible to know without an assessment. Click here to get an idea of how much you should be doing.

As a general idea of recovery times a mild tear will take 2-4 weeks to recover. A moderate tear will take 4-12 weeks. A severe tear will take 6-16 weeks and a complete tear can take 3 months to 1 year till it is fully recovered.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and that it helped give you an idea of how to manage your rotator cuff. Thanks for reading. For further information, feel free to contact me.

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