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Brian Schiff’s Blog

Injury Prevention, Sports Rehab & Performance Training Expert

Tag: shoulder pain

This is a follow-up from my previous post. Limited thoracic spine rotation can be detrimental for the shoulders, low back and lower extremities with sports and strength and conditioning activity. Consider the impact of asymmetry or stiffness on a golfer, swimmer, thrower, tennis player or even someone doing rotational and pressing working the gym.

Asymmetrical and repetitive activity can lead to deficits as can faulty positions during work and daily life. This simple exercise with the foam roller can be helpful in facilitating optimal mobility and better kinetic chain motion. This video comes from my ‘Functionally Fit’ column for PFP Magazine.

I work with many weekend warriors, strength training enthusiasts and overhead athletes in my practice. One of the more common dysfunctions I see in this population is either asymmetrical or general thoracic spine hypomobility (decreased range of motion).

This can predispose you to shoulder, back and hip dysfunction, as well as increase the risk for overuse injuries. In addition, it may also alter the natural biomechanics of movement, thereby negatively impacting performance. With all the sitting and screen time we engage in, it is no surprise we are developing a generation of people with forward heads, rounded shoulders and kyphotic posture.

This leads to reduced thoracic spine extension. Additionally, I often encounter decreased thoracic spine rotation. If this becomes restricted, asymmetrical overhead athletes may face increased stress on the lumbar spine, hips and glenohumeral joint. Common dysfunctions I treat related to this is rotator cuff tendinopathy, labral pathology, mechanical back pain, and hip pain to name a few.

To combat stiffness and promote more optimal mobility, I encourage my clients to perform daily mobility work. I have included a video I filmed for PFP Magazine in my column ‘Functionally Fit’ below that illustrates an effective way to combat reduced T-spine extension.

Be sure to check back for my next blog post on how to increase thoracic spine rotation.

Product Review - POWERPLAY

I am a big proponent of cryotherapy in my rehab whether dealing with acute or even more chronic inflammation. I routinely use cryotherapy with compression via Game Ready in the clinic for post-op knee surgeries, ankle sprains, rotator cuff pathology, Little League shoulder, labral repairs, etc. I was recently contacted and asked to review a cryotherapy solution on the market - Power Play.  Full disclaimer: I am not affiliated with POWERPLAY in any way nor was I paid to write this review.

My intent in writing this review is to share information about the product itself and its efficacy for use in the clinic as well as for the general public. Power Play shipped me the standard kit which includes a carrying case, the cold compression ankle and knee wrap as well as the pump and wall charger.   The entire package is easily portable for the ATC on the go, and works well in the clinic because it has three ports on the unit making multiple treatments for patients with various body parts a cinch.

Below is a picture of one of my patients recovering from ACL reconstruction using the knee wrap:

power-play-knee-wrap

The different body part sleeves include gel wraps that attach to the sleeves via velcro along with a stocking to protect the skin from the wrap.  POWERPLAY advises placing the wraps in the freezer or refrigerator prior to use.  I noticed that if you place them in the freezer and pull them out for immediate use they are stiff and do not conform as well as desired to the body.  As such, I would advise taking them out at least 10-15 minutes prior to use.

In terms of compression, the default setting on the display reading is 50 mmHg of compression.  You can increase compression in 5 mm increments up to 70 mmHg.  This is easily done with the touch of a single button.  The compressor runs for 20 minutes and then shuts off on its own, so if you desire lass than 20 minutes you would need to set a timer (not a big deal).

power-play-pump

POWERPLAY pump

Overall, the unit is convenient to take on the road and very easy to use.  The company states it will run the unit for 8-12 hours on one charge, and I find this to be accurate so far.  Patient feedback is that they like the wraps and the level of pressure, and they are comparing it to the traditional GameReady clinic cryotherapy I use with them on a routine basis.  The POWERPLAY unit is also definitely cold enough and comparable to all other forms of cryotherapy we have in the clinic.

I find the entire package is reasonably priced for the overall quality and portability of the product.  I think it would be a worthwhile investment for PT clinics, ATCs on the go and a client looking to have a high quality cryotherapy solution at home while recovering from an injury or surgical procedure.  I have long been a fan of cold and compression so I like this product, and I look forward to trying out their shoulder wraps next!  Click here to learn more about POWERPLAY.

I must admit that I am always looking for new ways or tools to enhance my practice and work as a sports physical therapist. I recently completed the necessary hours of training to perform dry needling in the state of North Carolina. I trained with Myopain Seminars and have nothing but great things to say about their courses.

For those unfamiliar with trigger point dry needling (TDN), it is a treatment gaining traction in the therapy world. Dry needling is a treatment that involves a very thin needle being pushed through the skin to stimulate a trigger point. Dry needling may release the tight muscle bands associated with trigger points and lead to decreased pain and improved function for those suffering from pain related to muscular dysfunction.

Trigger points may ultimately refer pain to other sites, and research indicates that TDN can reduce acidity in the muscle and clear out pain propagating chemicals. The picture below is an example of me performing trigger point dry needling to the upper trapezius of a 16 y/o female.

tdn-upper-trap

This particular client had been suffering from an inability to lift the arm above shoulder height and marked shoulder pain since September 2013.  She also mentioned having headaches at school.  Clinically, she was diagnosed with multi-directional instability and scapular dyskinesis by the referring MD. We began working on a scapular stabilizer and rotator cuff strengthening program in late November that was helping to diminish pain and increase function. However, she continued to c/o pain in school, stiffness and headaches.


Continue reading…

The shoulder mobility screen in the FMS often reveals side-to-side asymmetries.  It is more common to see hypermobility in female clientele, while their male counterparts exhibit more hypomobility.  Overhead athletes tend to demonstrate excessive horizontal external rotation and a relative loss of internal rotation on the dominant side.  This hypomobility can be detrimental to overhead athletes and increase risk for overuse injuries if it becomes excessive.

The following exercise is an effective way to improve shoulder mobility and optimize function.  One important point is to focus on form and move very deliberately through the motion.

Execution: Begin lying on the floor face up.  Bend the left knee up to 90 degrees and cross the right leg over top of the left interlocking them.  Roll to the left side and pin a folded towel or pad between the right knee and the floor.  Place the arms in 90 degrees of shoulder flexion with the right on top of the left in an outstretched position. Next, slowly sweep the right arm up overhead and around the body as you attempt to place the torso/back on the floor.  The finish position for the right arm will be reaching the right hand and arm up behind the back.

Exhale as you perform the sweeping motion and hold the end position for 2 seconds.  Reverse direction and return to the start position.  Perform 5-10 repetitions on each side.

Application: Limited shoulder mobility is a common finding, especially among male clientele with tightness in the pecs, lats and posterior shoulder.  Asymmetry with respect to mobility is common with greater difficulty found trying to reach the dominant arm up behind the back on the FMS shoulder mobility screen.  This exercise will help improve thoracic spine motion and shoulder mobility.  The focus should be on strict form and proper stabilization to avoid unwanted motion.  Pinning the pad (or towel roll) to the floor will help ensure better stabilization.

If hypomibility is an issue and clients score a 1, foam rolling the pec minor/major, latissimus dorsi and the posterior rotator cuff musculature prior to performing the exercise will be helpful.  Stability training can be added in later once the soft tissue mobility restrictions and movement pattern is improving.