Sep 24

Rehab with Rubbers

Rehab with Rubbers

I recently had the opportunity to take a course all about shoulder rehabilitation from a world renowned physiotherapist, Lyn Watson, a gal who performs some of the leading research in shoulder rehabilitation.  She came from Australia to teach Nova Scotia physiotherapists all about shoulder rehabilitation.  I learned a lot, and have also taught the other physiotherapists at Balance all about her concepts of shoulder rehabilitation.  She reconfirmed a lot of what we already knew about shoulder rehab, but also taught us a lot of new exercises and techniques that have strong scientific evidence behind them.

Common problems that people have due to shoulder pain include putting their shirt or coat on or off, doing up the bra strap, driving, carrying a purse or brief case, overhead motions such as painting or window washing, driving and swimming or racket sports, to name a few. Some of the major causes of shoulder pain are rotator cuff tendonitis, impingement, frozen shoulder, rotator cuff tears, and shoulder dislocations. While the pathology of each of these conditions is quite different, the rehabilitation is similar.

No matter the diagnosis, one of the major problems for all of these conditions is the position of the shoulder blade. Prior to starting any strengthening program, this must be corrected.  There are many different positions that the shoulder blade can be positioned in, and this depends on what muscle imbalance your shoulder presents with. I learned on this course a more in depth way to assess the position of the shoulder blade and teach the patient what their proper shoulder blade position is. All muscles around the shoulder blade must then be strengthened to hold the shoulder blade in its proper position.  I learned on the course, some of the best exercises to strengthen these muscles and these exercises are backed by scientific evidence proving their effectiveness. These exercises involve using theraband (Australians call therabands “rubbers” -hence the name of the article) and then in time progressing to specific exercises with weights. Some of the muscles that are targeted in strengthening are the upper, middle and lower fibers of trapezius, serratus anterior, rhomboids, deltoids and all of the rotator cuff muscles.

So far I have had great success in using these exercises and have helped people that may have been struggling with their shoulder rehabilitation as well as many new patients that have come in.  So if this sounds like you or someone in your family, perhaps you should come in for a shoulder assessment and learn your proper shoulder position as well as some exercises to strengthen your shoulder into the proper position. We also can perform modalities on your shoulder like acupuncture and laser to help you with the pain in your shoulder. Your shoulder exercise program will be designed in such a way that it does not increase your shoulder pain.

Liz van Zutphen, PT