Shoulder injuries due to exercise

Patients often present with problems in the shoulder area that start with microscopic muscle tears and strains as a response to heavy exercise and, as the person continues to exercise without leaving enough time for the body to deal with these strains, the passing aches a few days after a workout worsen to become regularly painful.  They haven’t left enough time for recovery.

This cumulative injury commonly occurs in the shoulder as, unlike the hip joint for example which is very congruent with the ball and socket fitting tightly together, it is all about the muscular balance. Often the rotator cuff and other muscles connecting the arm to the main part of the body via the shoulder become unbalanced and muscles like the biceps overwork to try and compensate for weakness and instability.  The tendon of one of the heads of the biceps passes through a narrow groove at the top of the shoulder (the bicipital groove).  This tendon becomes inflamed and sore as the person trains more and fails to rest sufficiently.  If any area continues to be inflamed, tissue repair is inhibited and damage may occur.

In the case of bodybuilders, what starts at a little niggle in the upper arm indicating that the biceps tendon might be being compromised, progresses steadily to be a debilitating injury which requires rest.  For any serious bodybuilder or athlete, these enforced rests can be a major handicap to progress however if the person continues stressing the shoulder, they may be forced to stop training completely.  It’s therefore better to seek treatment at the niggle stage rather than wait until the shoulder is regularly painful.  If their shoulder does become persistently painful and sore, they should also avoid the exercises below – especially if they involve using the body as resistance.  They should go for increased repetitions with lighter weights.  The lighter style of training will flush blood through the area promoting recovery and, at the same time, enable the trainer to hold on to the hard-gained muscle.  In addition, they should apply ice to the top of the arm / front of the shoulder area to reduce the swelling and inflammation in the area – particularly after training.

The specific exercises in bodybuilding that make people more prone to these kinds of injuries are: parallel bar dips, close grip bench press, shoulder press to the front, incline dumbbell curls, chest pullover across bench and chin and flat bench flying (particularly when going to low).   

The best course of action is to come to Essential Osteopathy to have the problem assessed and treated by Fiona McIntosh. Do book online or call 07887 655007 if you have any questions or would like any further information.

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