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Recovery from Rotator Cuff Issues

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Recovery from Rotator Cuff Issues

Post by Canuck Singh on Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:50 am

The fact you cannot bench or shoulder press effectively does indicate rotator cuff problems. You do need to obtain an accurate diagnosis of your injury so you know exactly where you stand in terms of your rehabilitation avenues. This means, see a physio. The shoulder joint is one of such mobility, unlike say, the hip or elbow, its action patterns can be seen every biomechanical plane of movement. Also there are 4 rotator cuff muscles that 'hold' your shoulder joint in place during every one of these movements and this exposes you to a multitude of technical problems.

First what you need to do, with the help of a good physiotherapist, is diagnose exactly which rotator cuff muscle is impeding your range of movement ( tear, strain, scar-tissue, calcification etc). By carefully examining the movements of each exercise that does and does not cause you grief will form a clear pattern as to which joint angles/movements exacerbate your problem . Based upon this diagnosis you will then be able to determine what other exercises (movements) aggravate your shoulder. This will be based on the angle and ROM of the exercise. It may be a subtle alteration of elbow position that relieves your problem. Ie, pulldowns with palms facing you and a closer grip will be better than palms turned away and wide grip. Next is exercise selection, base this on the following.

1. Choose dumbbells over barbells and machines for virtually all your work. Dumbbells allow you to complete your own ROM (range of motion) while incorporating greater activation of these 'weakened' rotator cuff muscles. You may have to leave your 'strength ego' at home, and use baby weights for a while and very, gradually increase poundage.

2. Work within your own ROM. This means you should be able to perform 1/2 or 1/4 range type movements in most exercises with out discomfort. Ie, you may be able to perform the top half of a shoulder press, but not the deep decent of the bar to your shoulders. Utilize this ROM to maintain strength in that joint angle. Also incorporate the 'static' (held )part of the exercise for muscle fiber activation.

3. While some of the primary, mass-building exercises may definitely be 'out' of your muscle building arsenal, don't let this discourage you. Work with the exercises you can perform <nice> HARD! You will still grow muscle, remember overload and time under tension are the key principles of muscle growth and physique transformation. To provide varying degrees of stimuli you can experiment with poundages/rep ranges, movement speeds and tempos and slight alteration of joint angles.

4. If you do have difficulty bending to lift barbells off the floor while standing, then don't do it. Get some help or work around this by training in a 'power rack/cage'. The only way to keep progressing is to remain injury free, this means don’t do the exercises that cause pain. Simple huh? Eliminate the exercises that cause you pain and embrace the ones that don’t.

5. Finally, learn to love the Swiss ball. Become a master of core stabilization work.

When you do increase the level of strength of your core musculature (abs, lower back and hip muscles) you will be simply amazed at the regression of your back pain and increases in poundage of your lifts.
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Canuck Singh
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