Shoulder impingement exercises are probably the last thing on your mind when you have a shoulder impingement. Any movement is painful so why would you subject yourself to further pain.
A shoulder impingement is a debilitating condition. I know because I managed to tear my rotator cuff at the end of last year and ended up with a shoulder impingement as a result of it. My supraspinatus tendon had become inflamed and was getting pinched every time that I tried lifting my left arm.
The pain was unbearable. At one point I was maxed out on pain killers and carrying a TENS machine around wired up to my shoulder just so that I could function. In case you do not know what I am talking about. The supraspinatus is one of the rotator cuff muscles.
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that surround the shoulder helping to stabilise it. They all hold the head of the humerus in place in the socket of the shoulder joint and all travel from the shoulder blade to the upper arm. They are relatively small muscles but vital to a healthy shoulder joint. Unfortunately they are also prone to injury especially for anyone who uses their shoulders a lot in sport or at work. Painters and decorators who are working above head height are prone to rotator cuff problems as is anyone who throws a ball in sport. The last group that are vulnerable are the over forties.
That is where I fit in!
A rotator cuff injury is a vicious circle. Once the tendon gets inflamed it can get pinched within a channel of bone that it runs through. Because it gets pinched it gets more inflamed, gets pinched more, gets more inflamed….see where I am going? Untreated the end result is that you could eventually snap the tendon altogether leaving you with a very nasty shoulder injury. After around four months of pain, I was on a short list for surgery but having already suffered a great deal of discomfort, I was reluctant to wait any longer so started researching shoulder impingement treatment on the internet.
I discovered that exercise is the key to recovery. Not lifting weights but exercises aimed at rehabilitating the rotator cuff. Start off with proper rest. That means avoiding completely any movement that causes you pain. The pain is an indicator that you are damaging the muscle more. This meant some fairly radical changes to my daily routine including giving up driving for a few weeks.
Treat the inflammation. I maxed out on anti inflammatory drugs and used ice packs to bring down the inflammation in the tendon. As things started to ease up I started some Pilates based exercises to gently stretch the muscles and stabilise the joint, gradually moving on to strengthening exercises. By starting slowly and building up gradually over a few weeks I was able to avoid any pain or further damage to my rotator cuff.
My shoulder returned to normal, pain free and fully mobile without the planned surgery! What do I put this down to? I believe that the over forties are susceptible to this injury because we change shape as we age. Our posture changes, we carry ourselves differently, sit badly and change the way in which we use some of our joints. We can get a bit lazy even. Our movements are not as fluid as when we were younger. All this has an impact on the body and leads to problems. Exercising properly gets things working again, sorts out our posture and gets rid of some of the problems that have crept in over time. This is not a revelation.
All of us know that we need to exercise to stay young. Sometimes it takes something like a shoulder injury to remind us how important it is.