Shoulder Impingement: You Can’t Fire Canons Out of a Canoe
So You’ve Got A Little Shoulder Pain:
Shoulder impingement and rotator cuff disease are just 2 of the pain-causing problems that could arise if your scapula (shoulder blade) isn’t doing its job to stabilise the shoulder joint. Scapula stabilisation can be a tricky thing to master as it doesn’t connect directly to the ribs and is held in place by a seemingly complex interaction of muscles that pull it in every which direction.
The first thing you want to get under control is proper thoracic mobility. Your thoracic spine should form a nice uniform C shaped curved which allows your shoulder blade to sit on top of your ribs. You also need the muscles that surround it to work together (not against it) to make sure it stays in position. Finally, you need a full range of motion to make sure you don’t get any pain or inflammation from overloading it.
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Restore Mid Back Range Of Motion:
Foam roll the mid-back region to ensure your scapula has a solid foundation to rest upon.
- Lay on the foam roller with it perpendicular to the spine, give yourself a big hug to expose the thoracic spine
- Roll up and down several times from the bottom of the ribs to the bottom of the neck
- Rollback down to the bottom, place hand behind the neck for added support
- Gently and slowly extend over the foam roller
- Repeat 3 times at lower, mid, upper thoracic regions
Fight Shoulder Impingement:
Now, you need to get your scapula to sit in the right position. This can be achieved by releasing your pecs and lats, ( from Our Fix Your Shoulder Pain blog) and then working on “setting” the scapula in a neutral position.
- Lay on your back with arms out to the side, and knees in the air.
- Reach your hands down towards your ankles.
- Gently (30-40% max effort) press the backs of your wrist into the ground.
- Hold pressure for 5-30 secs
- Relax for 10-30 secs
- repeat 3-5 times.
Stabilise Your Shoulder:
Once you have created static stability with the anatomical Iso exercise above, you need to teach your shoulder to maintain stability whilst moving. Try this Serratus Anterior Wall Slide exercise to retrain your muscles around your shoulder to stabilise the scapula through its normal range of motion.
- Stand facing a wall with Foam roller up rest (at chest height)
- Keeping forearms parallel roll foam roller up the wall
- Maintain pressure into the foam roller the whole movement
- Make sure the ribs stay tucked in through the entire range.
- repeat 6-8 times
- rest 1-2 mins
- repeat another 2 times.
The Next Steps:
After trying the above exercises you should be feeling more freedom through your shoulders, it is time to