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shoulder impingement

Ep 369 – Best Exercise After a Shoulder Injury

Ep 347 – This Exercise is Killing Your Shoulder

Why Your Shoulder Still Hurts?

Not all exercises are created equal.  As a Sports Chiropractor and shoulder specialist, we often see a lot of shoulder injuries & rotator cuff injuries but all of these injuries have one thing in common… poor movement of the scapula.  This is called scapular dyskinesis and truly contributes to poor shoulder movements, increases the chances of neck pain and mid back pain as well.

Lets Talk Rotator Cuff

Many are familiar with the rotator cuff band exercises.  You know the ones where we use a band and rotate inward and outward?  Well, a lot (actually a ton) of people do this with weights in their hand but it is completely incorrect!!!

External rotation with the bands are fine but when it comes to using weights its pretty much useless.  The reason is that there is no force to oppose that movement, meaning you need to have resistance.  When you are holding weights in your hand the force of the weight (and gravity) is downward.  When you are doing this exercise, you are holding the weight in your hand then rotating in external rotation.  As a result, you are not activating the muscle within the rotator cuff and posterior shoulder girdle as effectively.

So what happens is people have to hold this weight in place (isometric hold) and they are mostly strengthening the forearm (grips) and bicep.  Yes, you may be getting a small amount of shoulder firing but its not a true shoulder or rotator cuff movement.  The rotator cuff is does rotation of the shoulder but the primary job is actually to hold the joint into a good position.  That is why you want a strong and stable muscles that are not undergoing imbalances.

The force you need to generate to get rotation (and the fact that there are no opposing forces) allows you to overly rotate and shear the rotator cuff, ligaments, and tendons within the shoulder which can then cause injury, damage to it.

If for some reason you are no doing damage to the joint then great… but the truth is you are NOT strengthening it so don’t expect to improve your rotator cuff strength or have muscle gains with this either! No wonder you are likely not getting the results you want or are continuing to have shoulder pain.

Strengthening a muscle requires resistance against a movement.  Weight (gravity) goes down, so you go up!  Want external rotation, well the weight then needs to be pulling inward.   Think about where your forces are before doing the movement and what you need to do to oppose or work against that movement.  Knowing this concept can help you avoid other improper movements and help you isolate other muscles.  You will be surprised the results you can get when you engage in proper joint mechanics and give the muscle complex the proper resistance.