I have been getting a lot of emails from Crossfitters and recreational Oly lifters about the shoulder complex, "WHY are the newer-more-recreational members of Crossfit and Olympic Weightlifting more susceptible to shoulder injuries?" I have posted a few blogs about common causes of shoulder impairments, particularly for the participants mentioned above. I recommend reading through them (HERE) and (HERE) if you really want to better grasp the complexity and learn how to prevent injury. In this blog, I'll give you the short and sweet version. Additionally, I'll provide a list of impaired muscles, common joint issues, common shoulder injuries, and some useful Therapeutic Exercises to help.
As always, a big shout-out to those who take a proactive approach to learning, Thank you for your emails and questions (keep em coming), and thank you for the love and support.
Upper Crossed Syndrome (the upper extremity movement impairment syndrome) typically exhibit predictable patterns of injury including rotator cuff impingement, shoulder instability, biceps tendinitis, thoracic outlet syndrome, and headaches (1,2).
So what do the newer-more-recreational athletes of Crossfit and Olympic Weightlifting have in common? From my experience, the majority are professionals working behind the desk. Sitting at a desk type of job (without appropriately working to improve abnormality built-up) will eventually lead to Upper Crossed Syndrome. Naturally, when misalignments occur due to prolonged sitting, the altered shoulder mechanics will more than likely lead to degenerative changes in the shoulder’s capsuloligamentous structures, articular cartilage, and tendons (3)(4). Preventive and corrective solutions that address these misalignments are essential in preventing shoulder injuries during other activities such as running. Hebert LT et al., 2002 page 62 suggests that rounded shoulders (forward shoulder posture) alter the normal length-tension relationship and joint kinematic balance of the shoulder complex (5). If a person has unaddressed static misalignments and participate in activates not yet prescribable, a chain reaction will negatively alter the movement systems and cause other impairments. Sahrmann (2002) suggests “static malalignments (altered length-tension relationships or altered joint arthrokinematics), abnormal muscle activation patterns (altered force-couple relationships), and dynamic malalignments (movement system impairments) can lead to shoulder impairments.” (1)
Super Tight Muscles:
Super Weak Muscles:
Longus coli and longus capitis
Common Joint Dysfunction:
Thoracic and cervical facet joints
Rotator cuff impingement
Thoracic outlet syndrome
A few simple solutions to rectify the Upper Crossed Syndrome are alleviating tight overactive muscles and strengthening weak underactive muscles:
Regular stretches such as:
Seated chin tucks: 5x5sec hold/regularly throughout the day, especially at the office.