By Dane Johnson
The shoulder is a ball and socket joint which is composed of the upper arm bone and shoulder blade. The shoulder joint has the most extensive range of movement in the body. Because of its unique structure, this joint needs to have both mobility and stability at the same time. The muscles surrounding the shoulder joint, therefore, need to work precisely and smoothly to give the shoulder both the required movement and also support the shoulder joint from damage.
Following an injury, surgery or period of immobilisation of the shoulder, factors such as pain and scar tissue can make it difficult to move the shoulder like you used to. As a result of this, the joint might get stiff, muscles weaken and muscular imbalances are formed. Your physiotherapist’s aim, with a thorough assessment, is to find all of these abnormalities and then provide you with a tailored exercise program, to regain strength, flexibility and correct movement patterns, which is necessary for shoulder function.
Stretching too far or starting activity too early, can slow or even reverse the healing process. Prescribing a series of specific range of motion exercises suited to your injury and your limitations, can help get your range of motion back, and avoid the lasting effect that decreased range of motion can have on your body’s function.
Most people are shocked to discover how their injury and the ensuing recovery period can result in muscle weakness and a loss of endurance. Objective measures of muscle weakness and wasting are commonly noted after injury and surgery within 4-6 weeks. Minimising muscle loss and strength deficits are important goals of your physiotherapy programme.
When sports injuries prevent participation in training and game time for an extended period of time, maintaining cardiovascular endurance is important. Exercises like stationary cycling, pool exercises or gentle exercise may be recommended.
The key points to maximising recovery are performing exercises that minimise aggravation, maintain good form and proper technique, and strengthening local, regional and central muscles groups, as appropriate to the stage of healing you are in.