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Shoulder Impingement Syndrome: Causes, Treatment, & Tips

Our shoulders are an incredible bit of design, made to perform amazing moves of strength while also being flexible with a massive range of motion! We rely on our shoulders every time we use our hands and arms, so the shoulder’s ability to perform optimally is absolutely critical.

A while back, my shoulder went numb. I could not raise my arm at all; I was in pain, but moving my arm despite the pain wasn't even possible. It was a useless appendage at my side!

This was an incredibly humbling and frustrating experience. Thankfully, it only lasted a few days, and with concentrated physiotherapy, it was back to normal in a few weeks.

 

Why Is It Important to Keep Your Shoulders Strong and Healthy?

The experience did remind me of the importance of caring for my shoulders through proper exercise technique, regular strength training, and stretching. 

Research suggests that “shoulder pain is the third most common musculoskeletal complaint…..due to a defect of the rotator cuff and/or impingement syndrome.”

Considering how vital a healthy shoulder is to maintaining an active, independent lifestyle, taking the time to properly train the muscles that serve the shoulder is vital. 

 

How Do You Know if You Have Shoulder Impingement?

Shoulder impingement syndrome is particularly problematic and can strike anyone, not just elite athletes. The condition can last for months, putting a real damper on your lifestyle. This condition is painful because when it occurs, sufferers experience an “entrapment of soft tissue whenever they elevate the arm.” 

Simply put, this entrapment of soft tissues can be due to functional, degenerative, or mechanical causes.

 

How Do You Treat a Shoulder Impingement?

Treatment often begins with anti-inflammatory drugs and exercises. Other treatments which are highly effective include cortisone injections, immobilization, physical therapy, ultrasound, and elastic therapeutic tape. 

If the symptoms persist, surgery may be necessary.

If you have shoulder pain, it's imperative that you seek an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan from your health care team. It's never helpful to self diagnose or assume that you have a specific condition; your course of action based on assumptions may cause more harm than good. 

 

How Do You Relieve Shoulder Impingement?

There are ways to provide your aching shoulder with relief and recovery:

  • Follow the directions of your physiotherapist when it comes to the exercises they prescribe you; diligence is needed so you can get back to your regular activities. Physix Gear Sport offers a number of products that may be beneficial to you as you treat and recover from shoulder impingement syndrome.
  • A high quality kinesiology tape can help to protect your shoulder, as well as reduce the pain. Proper placement of kinesiology tape is the key to its success, so follow the instructions included with your tape.
  • Your prescribed exercises may require a quality loop band; those offered by Physix Gear Sport come in a variety of resistance levels. By having a range of resistances, you can start with the lightest resistance during your rehabilitation, and then move on to heavier resistances has you move on to strengthening the muscles of the shoulder.
  • There are some movements at the shoulder joint that are higher risk for causing shoulder impingement syndrome, or that aggravate this painful condition. Sports that require repetitive motion at the shoulder, such as swimming, tennis, and baseball can be the cause. 
  • Resting your painful shoulder is one of the first steps after being diagnosed with shoulder impingement syndrome. Ice can provide some relief. Do your best to avoid any movements that require you to raise your arms above shoulder height while in the recovery stage. Weight training exercises such as overhead presses and pull downs should be avoided until you are pain free. 
  • Strengthening the rotator cuff is of particular value. One of my go to exercises works these muscles (the rotator cuff is composed of the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis muscles). External and internal rotation exercises can be done without any resistance, in order to improve flexibility and ensure that you have a full range of motion. Then, light resistance can be added using a loop band. Once your shoulder is pain free and has a full range of motion, heavier resistance can be introduced. Take all the time your shoulder needs to fully recover to avoid worsening the condition.

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