Conquer Shoulder Pain and Stay in the Game: The Ultimate Aussie Athlete’s Guide to Shoulder Health.

The Shoulder Showdown: A Battle Between Mobility & Stability

The shoulders play an indispensable role in the rigorous demands of the sports we Aussies love! Sports like AFL, netball, basketball. Along with gym training and swimming; These sports heavily rely on both the shoulder’s mobility, and its strength. Making the shoulder pivotal for performance and success.

The shoulder joint is designed to move – in fact, it is the most mobile joint in the body. It’s a marvel of engineering that allows for a remarkable degree of movement.

The shoulder’s incredible mobility comes with a downside: your shoulder is also susceptible to injury. Shoulder pain can be a major concern for athletes, as shoulder injuries can significantly impact performance and even derail a season.

But fear not! We’ll explore strategies in the next section to help you reduce your risk of shoulder injury and keep you moving freely.

Anatomy of the Shoulder: A Marvel of Mobility and Complexity

The shoulder joint consists of 3 bones. The shoulder blade, the collar bone, and the humerus which is the bone in your upper arm.

  • The key joints that make up the shoulder are:
  • The glenohumeral joint. The ball and socket joint that comes to mind for most people when considering the shoulder.
  • The acromioclavicular joint (AC joint) connects your collar bone with your shoulder blade.
  • The shoulder blade.
  • The shoulder relies on a delicate interplay between these structures, allowing for fluid movement. When you raise your arm, the shoulder blade doesn’t just stay still; it slides and tilts on your rib cage to give your arm more room to move. This sliding and tilting action of the shoulder blade is super important because it creates space for the arm bone to move freely. Whether that be throwing a cricket ball or delivering the perfect catch for swimmers in the pool.

What Contributes to shoulder stability?

There are three things that contribute to the stability of a joint:

  1. The way the bones fit together
  2. The ligamentous support.
  3. Support created by muscles.

Compared to a joint like the hip, the shoulder has a relatively shallow socket and less ligamentous support.

The local muscles play a significant role in shoulder stability. In fact, given your arm bone connects with the shoulder blade and your shoulder blade then connects with the AC joint, your entire arm is joined to the rest of your body via a joint (the AC joint) about the same size as one of the joints in your finger.

Muscular Stability as a Protective Mechanism:

The reason your entire arm can be connected to the rest of your body by a joint the size of one of your finger joints is due to the significant amount of muscle stability around the shoulder blade.

Muscular stability forms a vital defence mechanism against injuries. Strong and well-conditioned muscles around the shoulder, including the deltoids, rotator cuff, and scapular stabilisers, act as dynamic stabilisers, providing support and control during athletic manoeuvres, reducing the risk of injury.

Why is the shoulder joint vulnerable in australian sports?

The shoulder joint is most stable when your arm is by your side. When you lift your arm up stability reduces. The sports we aussies love include sports like aussie rules football, tennis, basketball, cricket and swimming. All require us to use our arm above our head.

The shallow socket of the shoulder blade allows for extensive movement but increases susceptibility to dislocations or instability, especially in high-impact sports like Aussie Rules football where tackles and collisions are frequent.

In non-contact sports, the simple fact that we love sports that place our arms above our head poses a risk of shoulder injury. Take swimming for example, which requires strokes like freestyle and butterfly that involve repetitive overhead movements. The shoulder experiences a lot of strain during these activities. Now, don’t get us wrong. It can take it! The shoulder is an amazing structure with the ability to adapt to loads that you place upon it. However, this process takes time and a rapid increase in continuous overhead motion puts pressure on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around the shoulder joint.

If you are lacking stability/control of your shoulder, or if you increase your loads too fast, this can lead to issues like tendon pathology.

Even though swimming is not a contact sport, the repetitive nature of the arm movements in swimming can still put stress on the shoulder, making it prone to injuries.

Risk Factors for Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries are prevalent among athletes, often stemming from various factors that heighten the risk during training and competition. Recognizing these contributors and addressing individual risk factors are pivotal in preventing debilitating shoulder issues that can hamper athletic pursuits.

Factors Predisposing Athletes to Shoulder Injuries:

  1. Overuse and Repetitive Strain: Athletes participating in sports like swimming, basketball, AFL, and netball, often subject their shoulders to repetitive motions. These movements, especially overhead actions, can place unaccustomed strain on the shoulder muscles and tendons, leading to overuse injuries such as tendinitis or bursitis.
  2. Poor Technique and Biomechanics: Incorrect form or biomechanics during sports activities can place undue stress on the shoulder joint. People who are new to a sport/activity may lack proper technique and unknowingly perform movements that place excessive strain on the shoulders, increasing the risk of injuries such as impingement or labrum tears.
  3. Inadequate Warm-Up: Skipping or inadequately performing warm-up exercises before training or competitions can leave the shoulder muscles less prepared for activity.
  4. Muscle Imbalances and Weakness: Athletes with imbalances in shoulder muscle strength or surrounding muscle groups may experience compromised stability in the joint. Weakness in the supportive rotator cuff muscles, for instance, can lead to instability and susceptibility to injuries like dislocations or rotator cuff tears.
  5. Sudden Increases in Training Intensity: Rapidly increasing the intensity or volume of training without allowing adequate adaptation time can overwhelm the shoulder muscles and tissues. This abrupt escalation can result in acute injuries such as strains or sprains.
  6. Previous Injuries or Structural Issues: Athletes with a history of shoulder injuries or pre-existing structural abnormalities in the shoulder joint may be more prone to recurring issues or increased vulnerability during athletic activities. 
Worried about shoulder pain? An osteo can help!

Are you an athlete or weekend warrior who’s constantly battling shoulder pain?
You’re not alone. Shoulder injuries are incredibly common, but here’s the good news: We can help!

As an osteopath, we are experts in understanding the unique factors that contribute to shoulder injuries in athletes. ️‍

Here’s how we can help you:

  • Identify your individual risk factors: Are you prone to injury due to your age, sport, past injuries, or even your throwing technique? We’ll assess your situation and pinpoint the root cause of your pain.
  • Develop a personalized plan: No one-size-fits-all approach here! We’ll create a customized program tailored to your specific needs, including exercises, manual therapy, and education.
  • Get you back in the game: Our goal is to help you recover safely and return to your sport stronger than ever.

Don’t let shoulder pain sideline you!

Let’s work together to keep your shoulders strong and healthy!

Strength and Conditioning? Yes, Our Osteopaths Can Help!

‍Ever wondered if strength and conditioning are only for athletes?
Think again! As osteopaths, we often incorporate these principles into our treatment plans to help people of all ages and abilities reach their full potential.

Here’s why strength and conditioning plans are such powerful tools in our toolbox:

  • They help to build strength and endurance: This is crucial for preventing injuries, managing pain, and improving overall performance in everyday activities and sports.
  • They improve balance and coordination: This can help you move more efficiently and reduce the risk of falls or accidents.
  • They increase flexibility and range of motion: Your body adapts to what you ask of it. If you gradually use your muscles and joints through their full range of motion, they will adapt to improve their capacity to go there. This can help you move more freely and comfortably, and reduce pain and stiffness.
  • They boost mood and energy levels: Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects.

So, how do we incorporate these principles into our treatment plans?

It all starts with a thorough assessment. We’ll need to understand your individual needs and goals to create a safe and effective program. This program may include:

  • Targeted exercises: These exercises will focus on strengthening specific muscle groups and improving your overall fitness.
  • Functional training: This type of training helps you perform everyday activities more easily and safely.
  • Stretching and flexibility exercises: This helps to improve your range of motion and reduce pain and stiffness.

But what if I’m not an athlete or I’m not very active?
That’s perfectly fine! Strength and conditioning can be adapted to any fitness level. We’ll work with you to create a program that’s challenging but achievable.

Here are some of the benefits you can expect from working with an osteopath who incorporates strength and conditioning into their treatment plans:

  • Improved pain management: Exercise can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Increased strength and endurance: This can help you perform daily activities more easily and reduce the risk of injuries.
  • Improved balance and coordination: This can help you move more efficiently and reduce the risk of falls.
  • Increased flexibility and range of motion: This can help you move more freely and comfortably, and reduce pain and stiffness.
  • Improved mental health: Exercise can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.

Don’t Let Shoulder Pain Hold You Back

Shoulder pain can be frustrating and debilitating, but it doesn’t have to sideline you from the activities you love. Our osteopaths understand the complex nature of shoulder injuries and are dedicated to helping you achieve optimal recovery and performance.

Whether you’re an athlete battling overuse, a weekend warrior experiencing pain, or someone simply looking to improve shoulder health, we have the expertise and resources to help you reach your goals.

Here’s what you can expect when you book an appointment with one of our osteopaths:

  • A comprehensive assessment: We’ll thoroughly evaluate your shoulder function, identify the root cause of your pain, and discuss any risk factors contributing to the injury.
  • A personalized treatment plan: We’ll tailor a plan to your specific needs and goals, including manual therapy techniques, targeted exercises, and education on proper movement patterns and injury prevention strategies.
  • Expert guidance and support: Our osteopaths will be with you every step of the way, providing guidance, encouragement, and adjustments to your plan as needed.

Don’t wait any longer to take control of your shoulder health and get back to doing what you love. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and experience the difference that osteopathic treatment can make.

Remember, a pain-free and active life is within reach. Let our osteopaths help you achieve it!

Caring, professional osteopaths in Mount Eliza Village!

Ready to move and feel better? Get back to doing what you love! YouMove Osteopathy is here to help! Book an appointment online in just a few clicks: Schedule your path to recovery today! Are you a healthcare professional? Make a referral to a team that cares! We collaborate seamlessly with you to ensure your clients optimal outcome.