The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body and mobility comes at the price of stability. Active sports like golf, tennis, and weight training incur shoulder injuries at a higher rate. Rotator cuff injuries are just one of more than a dozen separate problems that can affect the shoulder, including everything from arthritis to tendon issues to bursitis.
Preventing shoulder pain is a matter of healthy structure and function of the joint and the tissues that support it. Strong bones provide the foundation of shoulder health by ensuring that the joint functions smoothly and can support the stresses placed on it. Muscles and soft tissue are essential for maintaining joint alignment and smooth operation. Strong rotator cuff muscles, upper back muscles, and chest muscles can protect the shoulder joint from injury, so strength training can go a long way to ensuring good shoulder health. To prevent shoulder injury warm up before exercise, avoiding over-lifting and reduce repetitive movements.
Use the RICE approach (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) to decrease swelling and inflammation, which will lead to faster healing and minimize long-term damage to the shoulder joint. Heat is not recommended for shoulder injuries, though it can be used sparingly to treat pain. Better alternatives for pain include non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications, like naprosyn (Aleve) and ibuprofen.
Active Release Technique and Graston Technique
Both Active Release Technique (ART) and Graston Technique (GT) use soft tissue massage and fiber realignment to permanently alleviate shoulder pain. ART works by restoring proper tissue function (e.g. muscle and tendon alignment) and releasing impinged nerves. GT is used to detect and treat adhesions in muscles and tendons that can limit mobility and negatively impact joint alignment. Both techniques can improve blood flow to speed healing, release entrapped nerves to reduce pain, and improve muscle and joint function over time.
Nerve impingement is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain. In the past, injections or surgery were the only options available to treat an impinged nerve in the shoulder. ART can now treat impingement without any invasive procedures and can achieve faster results than either injections or surgery. ART has become the standard for treating nerve impingement, particularly in athletes.
Studies show that GT can actually improve range of motion in the shoulder while reducing pain, with improvements evident after just a single session. If surgery is required studies indicate both ART and GT speed recovery and reduce postoperative complications.
ART and GT are the most sought-after treatments for shoulder injuries in athletes. They are effective soft-tissue treatment modalities that can not only offer permanent relief from pain and injury, but also prevent future injury. Many athletes make ART and GT part of the their routine, helping stave off problems before they occur. Both are non-invasive and non-traumatic, so give them a try and experience the relief that comes from a fully functioning shoulder.