On the Blog – Cadbury Physiotherapy

Whether it’s sailing, motoring or wakeboarding, all that extra activity can cause the odd niggly injury. One that we as Physiotherapists see a lot of at this time of year is tendon problems of the rotator cuff tendons in the shoulder, or impingement.

The shoulder joint has a wide range of movement and therefore relies heavily on the ligaments and muscles for stability. The rotator cuff is a group of small muscles which keep the ball of the shoulder in the socket, whilst the larger muscles move the arm. The space in which these tendons sit is very small and so if they become inflamed they can become caught, or impinged.

What causes them to be inflamed?

It can often be as simple as over using the shoulder in a particular position, or it can be one sudden action, such as throwing a ball or falling awkwardly when wakeboarding. Unfortunately, age is also a factor as we know that as we get older the tendons start to wear and are therefore more susceptible to sudden or repetitive type injury. And finally posture can also play a large part, as a more flexed back posture changes the shoulder biomechanics which can make the small space the tendons sit even smaller and lead to irritation.

How do you treat impingement?

Firstly it’s all about addressing the underlying cause, whether that’s posture or changing a particular activity, whilst building strength is vital to restore biomechanics and load the affected tendon to stimulate the healing process. We also use hands on treatment to stretch the shoulder and release the overactive muscles in the area, while Kinesio taping promotes good posture and supports the affected tendon.

Can you do anything to prevent it?

Yes! Doing exercises will maintain a strong and healthy rotator cuff. These two exercises are good ones to start with and don’t need any equipment. And pilates is a great way to keep your posture sharp and maintain good biomechanics!

Stand beside a wall with the affected arm at your side, your wrist against the wall and your chin tucked in.

Push your wrist outward while keeping your elbow at your side and your head still.

Relax your arm and repeat.

Stand in a door frame or at the corner of a wall with your chin tucked in.

Bend your elbow at your side and place the palm of your hand against the edge of the wall.

While keeping your head still and your elbow tucked in by your side, push the wall with the palm of your hand as if you want to move it towards your belly.

These exercises should be pain free but always consult a specialist if you need further advice.

If you’re suffering with shoulder pain I would advise you to get a thorough assessment to diagnose what the problem is and then start appropriate treatment so your tendons don’t spoil your fun this summer.

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