Shoulder joints are complicated and quite vulnerable to injury. We use our shoulders more than we think we do – until we injure one or both. Only then do we twig to the fact that we can’t do much of anything with serious shoulder pain.
And rehabilitating shoulder injuries is also complex. Exercise which specifically targets the injured area and supporting structures should always be done under the advice of a medical professional. This is especially true if you’ve undergone surgery for your shoulder injury.
Following are descriptions of some physical rehabilitation exercises to help with shoulder injuries.
Flexibility and strength
The two principal areas of focus in the rehabilitation of the shoulder joint are flexibility and strength.
Range of motion (flexibility) must be restored to return the joint to full and normative function, so you’re not hindered in the pursuit of every day activities like combing your hair, or doing up a seatbelt.
Strengthening the shoulder should take into account the rotator cuff muscles. If they’ve been injured, then doctor-directed exercise will help you restore strength to this sensitive area.
Stretching before exercise is always necessary, but with the rehabilitation of an injured shoulder, stretching is by far the most important aspect.
Your rehabilitative efforts being with stretching, as mobility must be re-established in the joint before you can begin strengthening it. Rehabilitation priorities are discussed below.
Bending from the waist, allow your arms to dangle. Now move your hands in small circles. This will serve to help with mobility by keeping the joint lose. Do these several times a day.
Many shoulder injuries and pain are caused by poor posture, originating in the cervical spine and affecting the upper back.
Again, rehabilitating problems like this is achieved with the support of medical professionals with a keen understanding of body mechanics, like a chiropractor or physical therapist.
These experts create exercise programs which target your specific injury, adding insight into body mechanics which will help you improve your posture to prevent re-injury.
A licensed physical therapist knows that the shoulder joint (which is a ball and socket joint) works in concert with the shoulder blade. When the joint is normal and functioning as it should, there should be no pain in either.
Pain is caused by a breakdown in the cooperation of these two structures, preventing them from working together as they should. It’s not the large muscles which are responsible for this dysfunction, but the small, supportive muscles, so it’s not a matter of fitness but of function.
The role of the physical therapist is to tune up the way your muscles operate by helping you model better posture and body mechanics by correcting them.
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