Weightlifters Shoulder

June 24, 2016 at 4:20 PM

Weightlifters shoulder and you.

CrossFit, not just a fad, it seems it is here to stay.

Personally, as I have found out myself, it’s an addictive and fun way to get fitter, stronger and faster. If you know a cross fitter, they would have probably told you the same thing, multiple, multiple times.

But it has to be done safely, which means building up the strength to preform many of the exercises, if you don’t, injury will occur. 

The shoulder is a prime example of this, a multi-axial joint that has to put up with a huge amount of force with lifting, and if this force exceeds the physical capabilities of the joint you will be sidelined very quickly with an injury commonly referred to as ‘weight lifters shoulder’.

Weightlifters shoulder is generally caused by lifting excessive loads too early with poor biomechanics. It will usually start as a niggle, but may progress to debilitating pain with overhead lifting, usually located at the front of the shoulder. 

This month we will discuss some common faults and fixes for this testosterone fuelled injury.

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Set Your Shoulders

Your mother was right when she said pull those shoulder back; you need to set your shoulder blades when lifting. Setting your scapulae (shoulder blades) means you are providing a good base of support for your shoulders to lift from and you are able to use your scapulothoracic muscles correctly. Shrugging may depower your shoulder and rotator cuff, which can lead to injury. So… don’t slouch, don’t shrug, set.

Office Spine

All those hours in front of a computer screen at work will be making your upper spine stiffer then a southland winter. So upper spine, or thoracic mobility is key for good shoulder health. This is because your spine needs to flex and rotate to allow optimal shoulder function especially when lifting overhead, a stiff spine will contribute to shoulder immobility and can lead to injury. Thoracic spine rotation exercises, as below, can help increase your mobility and decrease the chance of injury.  

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The Small Muscles Count

The rotator cuff plays a key part in shoulder stability and can be overlooked; these four small muscles play a crucial part in controlling your shoulder joint and letting it move correctly in motion, if these are weak it can leave your shoulder joint instable and at risk of injury. So get in to the habit of including in your warm up, or your routine some specific exercises that target this directly, you will be stronger for it.

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Pectorial Shortening

That slouched office posture will also be causing your pectorials shorten, this restriction can pull your shoulders forward, into a biomechanically inefficient position, where you rotator cuff and scapulae cannot work correctly and you will also loose range of motion.  A few pectoral major and minor stretches pre and post exercise will help alleviate this shortening and help again give you more range. 

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The shoulder is a complex complicated joint; the above are just some of the ways that can help you avoid injury. If you do currently have pain Auckland Physiotherapy are here to help, with the use of diagnostic testing, exercise prescription and manual therapy, we will able to pinpoint and treat your pain and get you on the road to recovery. Give us a call on 09 366 4480 or book online from our website at www.aucklandphysiotherapy.co.nz