I am squarely in the dysfunctional shoulder camp. In my last post, Create Rotator Cuff Stability To Improve Shoulder Agility, I wrote about rotator cuff risk factors for injury and recovery. My shoulder issues began after I partially dislocated my right shoulder at age seven and I’ve since had chronic issues associated with both lax ligaments and muscle tightness. My left shoulder has been a problem child since I fell off of a moped in Key West about 15 years ago and had to immobilize my left arm in a sling for six weeks. Now I know that muscle strength can decrease up to 17 percent within 72 hours of immobilizing a joint and that you can lose up to 40 percent (!) of muscle strength in six weeks. While yoga and other practices helped ease my shoulder pain following the accident, it really was my introduction to Yoga Tune Up®’s Roll Model Therapy Balls in 2011 that slowly but surely began helping me to comb through and unwind those angry tissues, each time a little bit better than before.

YTU prioritizes functional movement and emphasizes self-care as healthcare. For me, the rotator cuff Roll Model sequence (pp. 292-302) opened my eyes to how much tension I had allowed to accumulate in my shoulders. I realized that it’s imperative to wake up these muscle fibers and connective tissues and deal with potential trigger points that may impede muscle function and thus joint function!

As noted, since shoulder abduction and external rotation weakness are risk factors for developing rotator cuff problems, this is a great place to work with preventing injury in the first place. Here is my dream-team rotator cuff exercise practice that is fun, efficient in time, economical in moves and takes your shoulder joint through dynamic and static strengthening and stretching:

rotator cuff image

Figure 3 Scapula spelunking at the wall with YTU Therapy Balls.

-Rotator cuff roll-out from The Roll Model by Jill Miller
-Scapula spelunking at the wall, placing one ball in the infraspinatus and one at the superior angle of the scapula (Figure 3)
Piano Fingers (from the Upper Body Quick Fix Rx DVD)
Hitchhiking pizzas
-Matador circles
-Pranic bath

Because the shoulder is so mobile and we don’t walk on our hands, it can tolerate a bit more abuse than the feet, knees, or hips. But the shoulder girdle still bears weight and helps us support our heads, carry our loads, and perform many, many movements associated with living a “normal” life. Rebalance and strengthen your rotator cuff to keep your shoulders stable within their mobility!

 

References

  1. Colvin, A.C., Egorova, N., Harrison, A.K., Moskowitz, A., & Flatow, E.L. (2012). National trends in rotator cuff repair. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 94:227–233. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3262185/
  2. Cook, G., & Jones, B. (2006). Secrets of the Shoulder [DVD]. Functional Movement.
  3. David, G., Magarey, M.E., Jones, M.A., Dvir, Z. Türker, K.S., & Sharpe, M. (2000). EMG and strength correlates of selected shoulder muscles during rotations of the glenohumeral joint. Clinical Biomechanics 15(2):95–102.
  4. Davies, C. (2006). The frozen shoulder workbook. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
  5. Gladstone, J.N., Bishop, J.Y., Lo, I.K., & Flatow, E.L. (2007). Fatty infiltration and atrophy of the rotator cuff do not improve after rotator cuff repair and correlate with poor functional outcome [Abstract]. American Journal of Sports Medicine 35(5):719–728. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17337727
  6. Johnson, J. (2006). Treat your own rotator cuff. Indianapolis, IN: Dog Ear Publishing.
  7. Knopf, K. (2010). Healthy shoulder handbook. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press.
  8. Miller, J. (2014). The roll model: A step-by-step guide to erase pain, improve mobility, and live better in your body. Las Vegas: Victory Belt.
  9. Muscolino, J. (2011). Kinesiology: The skeletal system and muscle function (2nd ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
  10. Osti, L., Buda, M., & Del Buono, A. (2013). Fatty infiltration of the shoulder: Diagnosis and reversibility. Muscles, Ligaments, and Tendons Journal 3(4): 351-354. Retrieved from http://www.mltj.org/materiale_cic/724_3_4/6265_fatty/article.htm
  11. Peat, M. (1986). Functional anatomy of the shoulder complex. Physical Therapy 66, 1855–1865. Retrieved from http://ptjournal.apta.org/content/66/12/1855
  12. Wendelboe, A.M., Hegmann, K.T., Gren, L.H., Alder, S.C., White, G.L., & Lyon, J.L. (2004). Associations between body-mass index and surgery for rotator cuff tendinitis. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 86(4):743-747.
  13. Yamaguchi, K. (2011, January). New guideline on rotator cuff problems. AAOS Now. American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Retrieved from http://www.aaos.org/news/aaosnow/jan11/cover1.asp
  14. Yamamoto, A., Takagishi, K., Osawa, T., Yanagawa, T., Nakalima, D., Shitara, H., & Kobayashi, T. (2010). Prevalence and risk factors of a rotator cuff tear in the general population [Abstract]. Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery 19(1):116–120. doi:10.1016/j.jse.2009.04.006

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