Me: Volleyball without shoulder pain.
True story. I recently saw some research which stated girls volleyball had higher amounts of strains/sprains in shoulders than boys football, wrestling, basketball, and baseball as well as girls basketball and softball. It also stated that negative effects of shoulder injury can range from a significant reduction in playing time to lifelong shoulder instability or shoulder degeneration and arthritis over time.
That was for TEENS. Imagine us in our 30s and 40s! Ugh.
Here’s my story. I’m a volleyball player. I had shoulder pain.
When I moved from California to Colorado I didn’t play for a month. True weekend warrior style, the next time I played I didn’t warm up enough, took one swing, and OUCH. My shoulder hurt. As I warmed up more, it was fine, but afterward when I cooled down it was very sore.
It hurt for me to raise my arm all the way overhead, hurt to lift weights, hurt to play. I knew I strained one of my rotator cuff muscles (4 little muscles that surround and stabilize your shoulder) and also had impingement. This is when your rotator cuff doesn’t hold your shoulder in the right position and it jams muscle into bone when you raise your arm overhead (see picture).
It was concerning because it was affecting my ability to be me – to exercise and have competition and stay healthy.
Being a PT, I understood the situation which helped on the mental anguish side, and I also knew what to do about it because I see people day in and day out in this state. I changed my workout routine and things improved over time as I continued to do my best to retrain the muscles without further damaging them. But it wasn't totally gone.
My biggest jump in improvement and pain-free overhead activity was after some dry needling. It was the one push that returned me to my prior self. The needling helped activate my muscles, get out the knots, and allow them to control my shoulder complex so it would move correctly and no longer propagate the problem.
Here’s the take home and why I’m writing this:
To all you athletes who play, and weekend warriors who do, and moms and dads who pick up their kids with shoulder pain, I’ve been there. I understand it.
Early intervention was good. I didn’t let this go to the point where I was so flared up I couldn’t do anything (I got early access to care).
I was educated on the manner so I understood it and knew what to do. (PTs educate their patients). Pain wasn't the problem. Something caused the pain.
I got some treatment. Between hands-on care, dry needling, and therapeutic exercise I was able to rehab myself without ever going to the doctor or for an MRI (via conservative methods I fixed a potentially serious problem or even prevented a surgery).
Dr. Jesse Roles is a Doctor of Phsyical Therapy and owner of RiNo Physical Therapy, Inc.