Exercise is probably the last thing on your mind if you have a shoulder impingement but surprisingly the right type of exercise can help to sort out the problem and bring back full pain free movement. The important thing is when you do them.
It is important to understand the nature of the injury and to know a little about the shoulder to see how shoulder impingement exercises can help..
The shoulder is a complex joint. There are seventeen different muscles that are classed as belonging to the shoulder joint and twenty two muscles are involved in moving the shoulder. The shoulder is a very shallow ball and socket joint,almost like a soccer ball balanced on a plate. In the shoulder joint the plate is tipped onto its side so gravity is trying hard to pull the ball off the plate.
If you lift anything with your arm, the force is pressing in the wrong direction. The rotator cuff group of muscles are designed to hold the ball at the top of the upper arm onto the plate or socket that is on the outer edge of the shoulder blade. These muscles sit tightly around the shoulder forming a cuff of muscle that stabilises the joint. They are all attached to the shoulder blade at one end and the upper arm at the other and each takes a different route between them depending on which side of the shoulder they control.
There are several different kinds of shoulder injury including bursitis, tendonitis, shoulder impingement and a rotator cuff tear, all of which can present similar symptoms, depending on their severity. It is important to get a professional diagnosis so that you know what you are dealing with.
The joint is protected by fluid filled sacs called bursa. These sacs can become inflamed or even pinched within the joint causing bursitis. Tendonitis is an inflammation of one of the tendons of the rotator cuff. These two conditions can often be treated successfully with rest, treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs or ice packs, followed by therapeutic exercises designed to strengthen the shoulder.
The most common tendon to damage in the shoulder is the supraspinatus. This tendon helps to lift the arm to the side or front. In its journey around the shoulder it passes through a channel of bone called the sub-acromial space at the top of the scapula or shoulder blade. Tendonitis or inflammation of the supraspinatus can lead to an impinged shoulder.
This is where the tendon has become inflamed and is now getting trapped or impinged by the bone channel. If you carry on using your shoulder with a shoulder impingement you can damage the tendon by rubbing it against the bone. This can lead to a partial tear of the rotator cuff.
Shoulder impingements also come about as a result of an injury or simply through. As we age we change our posture which can lead to changes in our shoulder joints. This can sometimes cause a shoulder impingement. Some of us are also genetically more prone to shoulder injuries simply because of the shape of our shoulder blades.
Most shoulder impingements can be rectified with rest to allow the muscle to heal, treatment of the inflammation to help free up the impingement followed by shoulder impingement exercises to strengthen not only the rotator cuff but all the muscles of the shoulder. Make sure these are the right sort of exercises specifically designed for the rotator cuff.
Surgery tends to be a last resort, usually carried out when conservative treatments have not worked or if there is a particularly severe tear to the rotator cuff.
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