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 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)
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!
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