The shoulder is perhaps the most used and abused joint in our body. It’s hard to imagine going through a day without using our shoulders…. a lot. Unfortunately, whether we’re a desk jockey, weekend warrior, professional tennis player or anything in between, having some degree of shoulder problems is quite common.
Fortunately, it’s also fairly simple to correct, as long as the mechanism of the shoulder is properly understood.
We use our shoulders for everything- from an active lifestyle to pushing shopping carts to pulling up our pants, from lifting the golf bag to carrying the kids. However, the cause of most shoulder issues doesn’t always begin with the shoulder itself.
Our bodies are designed in a very complimentary and supportive way. In other words, when one part of our body is called into action, other parts of the body kick in to help balance everything out. Other parts of the body help to compensate the efforts of another.
Let’s look at the simple task of picking up a child from the floor:
We initially bend over, which causes our core abdominal muscles to contract. Our knees start to bend to lower us towards the ground. Our ankles fire up to help balance the entire effort to keep us from tipping over. We start to pick up the child with not just our shoulders, but our wrist and elbow joints as well. As we rise up from the floor, each of these mechanisms instantly kicks in reverse in a split second.
Here’s the issue: If we have an unknown knee issue for example, the process described above has a weak link. This weak link puts more pressure and stress on the main joint we’re using, in this case, the shoulder. So our shoulder starts to flare up and we naturally think we have a shoulder problem, when in reality, it’s probably more involved than that. Simply treating the shoulder by itself is treating part of the problem, but not the entire problem. This could lead to chronic shoulder issues if the whole mechanism isn’t addressed.
An effective treatment for an injured shoulder would first address the shoulder itself in order to reduce any inflammation and pain. However, for a long-lasting recovery, it’s also crucial to identify the entire mechanism/action that resulted in the injury. With a complete diagnosis, the other joints/muscles involved in the injury can be included in the rehabilitation process. Not only does this enable a complete recovery, but it makes another similar injury less likely.
Dr. Chase Waldrup, Board Certified Sports Chiropractor
Vida Seattle – Capitol Hill
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