this tour life

shoulder bothering you?

January 21, 2015
by

Hello there, it is me again, Martina from fysio.com.

Today I am gonna talk about shoulder injuries. There are many types of shoulder injuries, the most common one is tendonitis of the shoulder muscles.
You probably recognize the feeling of a sore, painful shoulder! The cause of those problems is (in a lot of cases) overuse (imagine a painter that paints too many walls the same way). When you are on tour, every day looks pretty much the same: today looks like the day before or the day two days ago and so on. You are on the bus or the plane where you sit in a slumped position, you might not always get your rest and then you have to go back on stage and work. That routine can sometimes end up in an overuse injury.

When I ask my patients if they can tell me how the pain started, most of them cannot answer it. That is because pain from overuse starts slowly and might seem harmless but it gets worse and worse… The pain might start with a slight irritation or soreness, but because you might think “it’s not that big of a pain, I’ll keep going…”, the pain can increase. So you keep working, you keep pushing and lifting boxes, working with lights and cables. Over and over again.

So what happens in your shoulder?

Once you feel discomfort in the joint or in your muscles, the body tries to tell you “take it easy, something is not right…”. But you keep working.

With repetitive movements (that are more frequent than a “normal movement”), the muscle tendon (part of the muscle that attaches to a bone) gets irritated and sometimes inflamed. That inflammation (if not treated properly) inhibits the muscle from it’s natural movement and wears down the soft tissue. The irritated and worn down tissue becomes weak and cannot function properly anymore, compare it to a shoe sole that wears down with the time.
So the more pain you feel, the more worn down the soft tissue can be.
Therefore it is really important to listen to your body and try to take care of it!

How can you treat those kind of injuries yourself?

Treatment generally involves

1.)→rest

2.)→altering your activities

&

 

3.)→mobilize your joint with relaxing movements (e.g. pendulum movements).

 

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Try to avoid the movements that caused the overuse.

If it is not possible to avoid the movements, try to perform the movement with both arms/hands or use once the left, then the right arm (even if you are not super handy with your non-dominant hand). If you keep forgetting to take it easy with your painful arm, use a scarf to make yourself an arm-sling (make a knot, put it around your neck and rest your painful arm in the sling, your elbow should be on a 90 degree angle). It might not be the solution to your problem, but at least it reminds you (and your colleagues) to take it easy with that arm.

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Another tip that I give to my patients

is to take a light painkiller once in a while. Why? (aren’t drugs bad??) Yes that’s right, it is not handy to take painkillers for every little pain you feel but I am convinced it sometimes helps the muscles to relax. With a painkiller you can move more relaxed and once that happens, even without knowing it, you start to move your arm in a more natural way (as i mentioned above, mobilizing movements are good). That way the body “accepts” the normal movement and can repair the damaged tissue. But be aware: painkillers alter your pain tolerance, so do not take painkillers and keep moving as nothing ever happened!
Once the pain is diminished, it is important to strengthen your muscles with a special training program.

At the end I would still remind you, not all shoulder injuries are overuse injuries. So try to respect those tips I gave you, but if the pain does not change, see a doctor or a therapist, since the pain could have a different cause than an overuse/inflammation.

If you have questions about your shoulder pain, do not hesitate to e-mail me: martina@fysio.com!

Martina Plunger www.fysio.com


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