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Shoulder Impingement and Functional Scoliosis

A shoulder impingment is often characterised by a debilitating inflammation in one’s shoulder and a pain deep within the deltoid’s joint. Much like a rotator cuff injury and depending on the severity of the impingement, a person can experience slight pain when raising their arm upwards in a full overhead motion or when performing overhead movements such as the shoulder and military press.

How does it happen?

There are multiple causes for a shoulder impingement. These can range from weak rotator cuff muscles to something obstructing the healthy movement of the tendon located in the shoulder when performing overhead movements (such as a sterile abcess from poor injection techniques, although this specifically would affect Anabolic Steroid users).

The most common cause is poor posture and muscle imbalances that lead to the over development of muscles such as the pectorals, front deltoid and trapezius. Many of us go to the gym and work towards goals. These goals tend to include increasing both muscle mass and strength, however, our egos can often get in the way. I suffered from a shoulder impingement for a few months and only knew that I had this tricky condition when, after a light-load, high repetition shoulder workout I felt a constant numbing and pain deep inside my left shoulder/upper bicep region.

I never felt that pain before and thus proceeded to book an appointment with a physiotherapist via my medical insurance the next day, as my shoulder area was clearly inflamed. Before even getting the appointment, I began icing and compression of the affected impingement area and also took some NSAIDs (specifically Ibuprofen, 800mg)

Diagnosis and cause of the shoulder impingement:

Once I met with my physiotherapist, he straight away recognised it as a shoulder impingement. I was made to do a variety of movement such as raising my arms as high as I could and bring them back down slowly, both sideways and front raise movements. I could feel the tendon ‘catching’ on the bone as I began to lower my left arm slowly. It wasn’t a very sharp pain, but it was there and would become pretty painful under any load above 10 kg. This was annoying of course, as I had just reached being able to shoulder press 40kg dumbbells and did not want to lose my strength, thus why I cited ego as being a factor in making things worse.

There seems to be a correlation between having functional scoliosis bodybuilder or weightlifter and development of shoulder impingements. The imbalance in muscles, specifically around the upperback/rhomboid area as well as the pectoral muscles can result in tightness, lack of flexibility and recruitment of the wrong muscles when doing overhead press movements.

In my case I had over developed pecs, my left side was more dominant in the latissimus Dorsi and upper back area as well as my chest muscles being well developed was pulling my shoulder posture forward, resulting in bad form when doing dumbbell or barbell shoulder presses.

Furthermore, as a functional scoliosis sufferer, you might use your latissimus dorsi and upper back when performing the overhead lift instead of engaging the lateral deltoid muscle, which is meant to be the primary muscle engaged in the press lift.

Weak rotator cuff muscles can also affect the shoulder. Proper warming up using resistance bands or the cable machines at your gym prior to commencing any shoulder weightlifting routine is crucial in preventing injury and complications. The same goes for warming up with a lightweight and increasing the weights slowly each set until you develop strong shoulder muscles.

Treatment:

  •  Stretching the pecs
  •  Performing the Rotator cuff and Shoulder warm ups in the videos 4 times a week (increasing resistance when it gets too easy)
  • Progressive overload as you move up in weights.
  •  Proper warm-up (10-20 reps with just light weight dumbbells such as 5kg)

 

 

 

 

A shoulder impingement unfortunately does not heal quickly and is a constant work in progress but with following the above instructions it will get better within a month, and, as you strengthen the accessory muscles, your overhead movements will benefit and be pain free.