Shoulder Impingement? Learn How to Get Rid of Pain Fast!

Shoulder Impingement
The shoulder is a very complex joint that is one of the most mobile joints in the human body, at the cost of joint stability. One of the most common issues that clients present is a shoulder impingement. A shoulder impingement is typically identified by pain in the shoulder when you raise your arm over your head, swelling, tenderness, night pain especially when lying on the affected shoulder and possibly an aching pain at rest(1). Here are some tips on how to get rid of that annoying shoulder pain for good.
Tip 1: Avoid Aggravating ActivitiesHow can you expect your shoulder to get better if you keep exposing it the activities that make it worse? It may sound really straight-forward, but many people get this first simple step wrong.  The body cannot heal itself if you don’t allow enough time for it to do so. Avoid aggravating positions such as overhead movements, lifting and sleeping on the painful shoulder. We call this controlling the load and is a good first rehab step.

What to do instead? Try to use the non-affected shoulder to perform overhead and other aggravating activities.  When you do use your affected shoulder, try to keep your elbows pointing towards the ground and close to the side of your body.Tip 2: Build scapula stability 
The scapula is frequently referred to as the shoulder blade and plays an important role in stabilising the shoulder. A common postural presentation in people presenting with a shoulder impingement is a rounded shoulder and forward head position. This posture causes problems at the shoulder as it decreases the sub-acromial space, which is the space where the rotator cuff tendons pass through(1). As the space gets smaller, this compresses the rotator cuff tendons causing pain when you elevate your arm. Over time, tendons poorly tolerate being compressed, but they like being strengthened.

What to do instead? Try to be mindful of your posture and ensure your shoulders don’t roll forwards.  Shoulder retraction exercises are very helpful at correcting scapula position and enhancing posture. Taping can also help to get the shoulders back and improve posture. Click on the link below to see a demonstration of an effective exercise to build scapula stability.Tip 3: Strengthen Rotator Cuff Muscles

People with shoulder impingements commonly present with weakness in their rotator cuff muscles(1). The Rotator Cuff muscles incorporate four distinct muscles at the shoulder and their tendons, which provide strength and stability during motion to the shoulder complex. Rotator cuff strengthening exercises are important at restoring muscle balance/ratios and preventing muscle wasting(1). Click on the link below to see a demonstration of an effective exercise to strengthen rotator cuff muscles.
 Cools, A. 2014. Br J Sports Med: 692-7
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* Conferred by Fellowship of the Australian College of Physiotherapists in 2010