Shoulder Pain - The Influence of Muscle Imbalances and Rotator Cuff Strength
In the sporting and weight lifting community shoulder pain occurs frequently due to a lack of understanding about the biomechanics affecting the shoulder joint. The most common cause of shoulder pain and its associated injuries are usually due to rotator cuff disorders and muscle imbalances.
Common management strategies for shoulder pain include the usual rest from aggravating activities and anti inflammatories which can help with pain relief in the short term but have minimal impact in long term resolution of the issue. There are a number of exercises that show that rotator cuff and shoulder stability exercises can effectively reduce shoulder pain but also improve tendon strength, rotator cuff activation and improve the way the shoulder moves. The end result is a hollistic approach in achieving a long term resolution of the shoulder issue.
The shoulder joint is one of the most mobile joints in the human body, which is in part due to it being made up of two joints. These are the scapulothoracic (where your shoulder blade articulates with your rib cage) and the glenohumeral joint (the traditional shoulder joint). Causes of shoulder pain such as rotator cuff tendinopathy, shoulder impingement/bursitis, labral tears or shoulder instability are often caused through a loss in function of both of these joints. For the shoulder joint to work pain free it needs a stable shoulder blade to work off. This means that both of these joints needs to be assessed and managed according to how well they are performing.
Muscle imbalances caused by training errors in gym programs can lead to muscles that attach onto the shoulder blade to alter its resting position and normal movement pattern. This is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain in the gym community. Gym programs needs to ensure that for each exercise where something is being pushed, something else needs to be pulled in order to avoid this problem. It is the role of your physio to assess and diagnose which muscles are responsible for the shoulder pain and alter your program as necessary.
As you can see - the shoulder can be quite a complex puzzle. However with the correct physiotherapy diagnosis and intervention you can both piece it together.