Let’s talk about shoulder pain, and the most common cause of most shoulder injuries – overuse.
Now when it comes to aches and pains, there are just two ways that bring them on.
One, you can have an accident. With an accident you know exactly the moment it happens, as there’s an incident that’s usually accompanied by a pain – for example, you could fall awkwardly or have a collision. We call this acute pain.
The second is related to something you’re doing that causes annoying persistent pain – this is the most common one we see here in the clinic, known as chronic pain.
Chronic shoulder pain is identified as pain that’s always there, and it isn’t always down to one particular movement or activity. It’s the reason you go to grab your shoulder after lifting something heavy or when you go to reach for something in the back of the cupboard. Those who have this type of shoulder pain often feel doomed, as if they were just plagued with bad shoulders.
But there’s simple ways to ease it, and help fix it.
A few weeks ago we saw a patient, Martin, 46, who came to us after struggling with chronic shoulder pain for three months. Martin plays cricket at a high level, so having to put up with shoulder pain every day was beginning to affect his performance and get in the way of his weekly training sessions – not good with pre-season training coming up.
We helped him and he returned to cricket, gaining a position in the first team.
This type of shoulder pain can be caused by many things – ironing, painting, a lifting heavy objects, and even from sitting! So what can you do about it?
Firstly, ‘overuse’ doesn’t exactly mean doing an activity too much (so I’m sorry, but something like ironing isn’t the culprit, unfortunately). Overuse means doing the ‘wrong things’ too much.
In Martin’s case he was performing a shoulder exercise in the gym in the wrong position, which we discovered was bringing on his shoulder pain in the first place.
But gym and exercises aside, you could have weak muscles in your arms, back and shoulders, poor posture when sitting and standing and you could have even spent most of your life sleeping in an awkward position.
All of these things can be the culprits of nagging shoulder pain. So let’s look at some ways you can ease annoying, daily, irritating shoulder pain.
Whenever you’re feeling achy or painful, such as at the end of a busy day, ice is the best way to ease the pain. Apply an ice pack for ten minutes or so, little but very often every hour.
And when to use heat? When you wake up in the morning the muscles are likely to be a little stiff and cold, applying a hot water bottle will help you move your shoulder with more ease. Again ten minutes should do it.
Next let’s take a look at sleep. How many pillows do you sleep with? Two, or one? If you’re used to sleeping with two pillows this one may feel a little strange at first but in the long run, it’ll do your shoulders a world of good.
Sleeping with one pillow lowers the amount of stretching and tension that happens in your neck and shoulders at night. Drop down to just one soft pillow and you’ll notice a difference.
And lastly, if you’ve been putting up with the pain for several weeks now, even months, getting some hands-on treatment is going to help ease the pain fast.
In fact there isn’t a faster way to ease shoulder pain than by going to see a physio.
Physio will be able to soothe and relax tight aching muscles, as well as give you personalised exercises that will help strengthen your muscles and make sure your posture is perfectly aligned.
Combine all these tips along with a trip to a physio and you will feel a dramatic drop in the pain.
For more quick tips like this to help ease shoulder pain, visit my website where you can download my free tips guide: www.paulgoughphysio.com/neck-shoulder-pain