Shoulder pain can make life incredibly frustrating. It can make you want to stop doing every day tasks like washing your back, reaching overhead, or doing pushups. Last week ‘s post discussed pain due to shoulder instability. Today we’re going to address the third category: tendon strains and tears.
As we mentioned last week, the shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint. It looks kind of like a golf ball sitting on a tee.
The tee is the end of your shoulder blade (the socket), and the ball is the end of your shoulder. The rotator cuff muscles work to control the ball end of your shoulder to keep it sitting on the socket correctly. The rotator cuff tendons attach the muscles to the shoulder. They can become overworked by repetitive injury like throwing or weightlifting with poor technique. They can also be strained in an acute injury like a fall. When the injury is not very severe, it may only be noticeable with specific positions or when working against resistance, like when doing pushups or lifting weights. When the injury is more severe, you may notice it when doing less intense things, like when trying to wash the top of your back or reaching back into a car.
Fortunately, tendon strains and sprains in your shoulder can heal well with some targeted exercises. Here are two exercises that can help with getting your shoulder strong and working well again:
Shoulder external rotation
Shoulder external rotation increases the strength of your rotator cuff. Direct stimulus to the rotator cuff tendon with light resistance can increase the rate of healing.
Make sure to keep your shoulder blade pinched back throughout the entire movement. Start with no weight if your shoulder is really hurting, otherwise start with 1 or 2 pounds. Try 3 sets of 10 of these every other day, progressing to 3 sets of 15 as they get easier. Once you can do 3 sets of 15 with only mild fatigue, then your next session you can add another pound and start at 3 sets of 10 again.
Scaption primarily targets the supraspinatus muscle and tendon This is part of the rotator cuff, but it is activate more when lifting the arm up like this. Make sure to avoid shrugging your shoulder up towards your ear when doing this exercise. Like for external rotation above, start with no weight if your shoulder is really hurting. If it is less severe, start with 1 or 2 pounds. Try 3 sets of 10 of these every other day, progressing to 3 sets of 15 as they get easier. Once you can do 3 sets of 15 with only mild fatigue, then your next session you can add another pound and start at 3 sets of 10 again.
With both of the exercises above, some mild soreness in the injured area is okay. Neither of them should cause any sharp or severe pain. If they do, or if you’ve tried these and you’re still hurting, we can help you! At Solutions Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine, we’re experts at treating shoulder pain and will develop a plan to help you beat it.
Helping you live your best life,
The Solutions Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Team