Most athletes have experienced shoulder pain in some capacity. What isn’t so apparent is that much of the localized pain harbors association with shoulder impingement syndrome.
A shoulder impingement occurs when swelling of the rotator cuff muscles causes a misalignment or shift in the bone structure. This leads to the acromion process of the collarbone to “rub” against a tendon or bursa (a fluid-filled sac that encapsulates a joint) causing pain, swelling and reduced range of motion. The rotator cuff has small, intrinsic muscles that assist in rotation, as well as stabilization of the shoulder complex, including all muscles, joints, ligments and bone. The alignment is important, because once an athlete experiences a displacement or misaligned set of bones, the impingement is active.
This type of syndrome isn’t isolated to any specific athlete or sport. Any contact sport that involves body contact can cause a displacement to the shoulder. This makes hockey, lacrosse and football more susceptible to sustaining an impingement injury.
Any overhead exercise, which is the main cause of impingement, will likely aggravate the injury. Overhead movements place a lot of stress on the Rotator Cuff muscles. Many athletes lift heavy weights above head, with the idea that this will create strong deltoid muscles. The shoulder just isn’t meant to bear that kind of weight. The Rotator Cuffs stress and inflame, causing impingement of the Clavicle.
Below you will find ways to improve your issue with shoulder impingement syndrome exercises. All of these exercises should be completed under the premise that no pain is experienced while performing the movement. We’re trying to strengthen injury tissue, not cause further degradation.
All shoulder impingement syndrome exercises should be treated as rehabilitative measures. Going overboard in repetitions or weight could result in a tear, separation, or tendonosis of muscles, bone or ligament. Be smart, take small steps consulting your fitness team and you should be on your way to a quicker recovery.
Stretching for Shoulder Impingement
- Aids in releasing tense muscle tissue
- Produces increased neural stimulation
- Activate motor unit recruitment
- Main support system for healing
- Movements such as a Cross-body elbow pull, help to increase range of motion in the shoulder capsule. Additional stretches can be as simple as interlocking the fingers behind the back, pulling through the butt. This opens the front of the chest, allowing the anterior deltoid to stretch.
Exercises for Shoulder Impingement
- Upright Row – Pulling a band, wrapped under your forefoot, from the waist to chest.
- Shoulder Protraction – Pushing the band away from your chest
- Shoulder Retraction – Pulling the band toward your chest.
- Bilateral Internal Rotation (BIR)- Cross-body outward movement from R to L with left arm, L to R with right arm. Start at the opposite hip to arm, pulling diagonally upward through the abs and beyond the chest.
- All of these exercises should be performed with bands or very light weights, no more than 15lbs. The repetition range should be between 8-15. Do not focus on training until failure. 2 sets are sufficient here.