View Full Version : Shoulder Injuries

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02-03-2006, 01:31 PM
I recently injured both my shoulders during training and would really like to get some opinions on ways to fix them.

So here's a brief background, my natual reaction to stress seems to be a tightening of my neck and shoulder muscles. Over the last few weeks I've had a lot of stress at work and so even with a really good warmup before training, my neck and shoulders are quite stiff. So much so that someone need only setup for an osae and I'll start to tap out.

I am studying jujutsu and aikido (more jujutsu than aikido) and our style can be a little hard at times. And here's the highlight of it all, I'm going to be testing for shodan in April.
So as you can imagine training has been a bit more intense, we've been playing atleast 6 days a week if not 7.

My first injury was on my left shoulder, a relatively taller guy threw me in a ukiI goshi and my hand landed before my body (I know not the best ukemi) and caused a fair bit of pain in the shoulder. A few days later and a couple of judo locks and osae's later my right shoulder got hyper extended and that too has been hurting pretty badly.
I wasn't able to do a left sode surikomi goshi with the left injury, now I'm afraid just normal right side throws might get difficult, not to mention the 400 or so other techniques that require a relatively healthy body.

I've been told about cortisone shots and that they might be helpful, however I was hoping there might be some other natural cures for this.
Yes (long term) rest is possibly one, but you can imagine with 2 months to a shodan exam, I'm a little concerned about taking a lot of time off. I'm also testing along with someone else so this process affects his training too.

Although I don't usually (most never) take allopathic medication, I'm seriously also thinking about pumping up with pain killers and going back to train (I see the foolishness of this approach even while writing this but I am considering it)

I would really appreciate any suggestions on curing this thing, natural cures preferred but open to anything right now.

02-03-2006, 02:01 PM
You can try alternating cold/hot to speed up healing, but don't bet on it. Hot as you can stand for 5 minutes, couple of minues off, cold as you can stand for 5 minutes (don't get freezer burn ;-), couple minutes rest...for 15 minutes...end with cold. 3 or so times a day. Again, sometimes it works, don't bet on it. <disclaimer>consult your doctor</disclaimer>

Don't pump up with pain killers and train. Are you a pro? is this your only life? ok then do it, otherwise heal yourself...aikido will still be there...

Edwin Neal
02-03-2006, 02:16 PM
definately decrease the intensity of your work outs and possbly the frequency... talk to a physical therapist, sports trainer, or doctor... give your body a chance to heal some... make your work outs more about technical quality than power and speed... do you practice visualizing your techniques some find this a good way to go when you must lay off a bit... read some books, watch some videos especially videos of yourself and find the things that need fixing... but the most important is to heal... you won't be any good if your shoulders crap out the day before or 10 minutes into your test... good luck...

02-03-2006, 03:00 PM
My shoulders used to come out of joint. Ouch.

All advice so far is good.

For me - healing old spinal injuries has taken the 'death lock' I had in my upper spine out - allowing the shoulder girdles to float freely, rather than staying in one place and causing my arms to lever out of joint. The Chi Kung I do is teaching me 'ki' or 'kokyu' again in my body, rather than (unbalanced) muscular force. I feel younger.

Good luck training and on your shodan test.


02-03-2006, 03:31 PM
Shoulders are one muscle group that never seems to get easier to maintain. If you are prone to tweaking your shoulder tissues (as I have been), add something to your weight bearing excercise program that will strengthen them. Doing some shoulder presses with as little as 10 pounds of weight, or perhaps even just doing some pullups and pushups every other day will probably totally eliminate such minor shoulder problems. On the other hand, if are prone to shoulder dislocation, especially if you suffer from chronic posterior glenohumeral dislocation (shoulders which dislocate to the back rather than to the front), do yourself a favor and find a quality physical therapy/sports medicine clinic and have a professional therapist teach you the specific excercises that will keep your joints together. Once you learn them, DO THEM. I had a wonderful friend who could never quite stick with his PT schedule and it was a tragedy to see his shoulders self destruct over time.

02-03-2006, 03:36 PM
When you over train you become more susceptible to injuries. Less can mean more. You may find if you cut back just a little on your training, you will suffer less from injury, may recover some from your shoulder injuries, and improve your technique. I suffer too from shoulder and neck injuries. I recover by reducing training sessions, reducing intensity as Edwin suggested and by going to a massage therapist.
Good Luck, Vic

02-03-2006, 09:26 PM
Boy, this topic really strikes a nerve (sorry). I have a "trick" shoulder that has deteriorated over the years, and up until about a year ago, it had become a real bother. It might pop out reaching for a glass, and ukemi was very dicey. It would pop right back in, but each time I knew I was in for three or four days of abject stiffness and pain ranging from a dull and distracting ache to a sharp, stabbing jolt.

After consulting with several doctors, I was basically told that I had two choices. I could go under the knife for reconstruction (no, not arthroscopy) or I could stop training in earnest, get into physical therapy, and build up the weaknesses and let healing occur. I was told that any activity that would strain the joint would be counterproductive. My orthopedist put it to me exactly this way: "Get the hell off the mat for a while, dumbass!" Since I already have more than my share of zippered flesh, I chose the non-surgical option. I have also been the acupuncture route, without success, and I have smeared many awful things on my body in exploring the herbal alternatives (cats still follow me around).

But I'm happy to report that, after nearly a year off the mat, I have been given clearance to begin my comeback at the end of this month. My range of motion is nearly normal, and the shoulder has not popped in several months (although it almost went out once right around Thanksgiving). I'm looking forward to tossing some folks around again, and my only worry is that I might overdo a fall or something. I'll just have to put that out of my head.

My message to you, Kirit, is to take it easy, and get medical advice. Shoulders can become very chronic, and you'll have a hard time being totally confident about any movement, and that mindset can be counterproductive. If you have to throttle back, stay involved in Aikido an way that you can. Go to the dojo and watch. Travel to other dojos and gain some important perspective. Read and watch videos. Attend seminars as a spectator. The down time is an excellent opportunity to explore the history and flavor of Aikido. But above all, be sensible and PATIENT. Otherwise, you're on a l-o-n-g, rough road.

Good luck, and write me if you need encouragement.

Mark Freeman
02-04-2006, 03:17 AM
What is more important to you, your shodan test on a specific day, or your long term physical well being? Over training with injuries is probably not the best way to go. Cramming before an exam rarely makes much difference. You most likely know all you need to to take your test, so relax a little, give you body a rest. Shoulders are notorious for taking a long time to heal, that's just life.
Mental anxiety leading up to a test can make physical problems worse. You may find that after you have successfully completed your test, the relief will speed up the recovery.
Good luck if you decide to take your test, but if you can't take it on the day, it will come round again.

Gene Skiff
02-05-2006, 11:53 AM
I, too, suffer from chronic shoulder problems mostly from chronic subluxation (trick shoulders) as a youngster. I believe you've had many good suggestions and I'd like to synthesize and add.

!.) Decrease frequency and/or intensity of training. This is a staple of treating sports injuries. 2.) A few weeks of anti-inflammatories will speed healing. 3.) As you describe your problem as starting with stiffness or tension I'd suggest seeing a chiropractor to evaluate spinal alignment. Chronic malalignment causes increasing tension and pain as you've described. MAssage before or after chiropractic treatment works and feels fantastic.

Good Luck.

02-06-2006, 07:05 AM
give them a rest.
but remember muscles have memory, the longer you rest them, the worse they could get.
i'd go and see a physio or remedial therapist.

ive tried several gp's and none of them could tell me what was wrong with my shoulder except a pulled muscle (pulled muscle for over 3 years-i ask thee)

anyhoos take care of them.
and dont grade unless you know you are fit to do so,
you have a life to get that grade, but at the same time a life of pain if you dont treat them right.

...also...TIGER BALSM-y goodness

02-06-2006, 09:28 AM
Rest them, but not too much - I have a dislocated collar bone which weakens my shoulder and strained it again about a year ago. Complete rest its not always great - you need to gradually build up the supporting muscle. I suggest seeing a physio. I was a tight bugger (and have had very contradictory and expensive dealings with physios) thus I did tai-chi. - it was great because it was gentle exercise which stretched my shoulders in every direction without force. It also made me aware of the slow improvement in my strength and flexibility. Also chi-gung (standing practise) is a stationary method of building up all those tiny little supporting muscles which we usually ignore (thus resulting in strains).

2 months sounds too soon. You could take steriods or pain killers, but what's the point? Just delay your shodan. Also, try to avoid the use of excessive strength in technique. To me, blending in aikido is not about being weak or not using force, it is using force only when it can't be resisted. Someone using alot of excessive force in any activity is a sign of poor skill development (I should know 'cos I dramatically increased my swimming speed within a month just by reducing my use of power and improving my technique). - difficult to do anything about other people hurting you except relax more, stretch more, tap out earlier and get better as an uke (in protecting yourself).

P.S. chi gung will certainly enable you to relax your shoulders more as well, which is of absolute importance for martial arts.

02-06-2006, 09:30 AM
P.S. ignore GPs - there are only three standard responses that those monkeys give:

1. take this drug (usually a pain killer or antibiotic)
2. rest for 6-8 weeks
3. (if you are lucky) refer you to a specialist

In the UK I see GPs as a very expensive referral service

Janet Rosen
02-06-2006, 11:47 AM
soft tissue takes 6 to 8 wks to heal.
cortisone does not promote healing, it may retard it.
overuse of injured soft tissue creates micro tears and new injury, 'resets' the healing calendar back to the start, and creates the likelihood of an acute injury turning chronic.
dude, taking your test on a given date/wk/month is so not worth it!

02-06-2006, 03:15 PM
[QUOTE=Kirit Basu]I recently injured both my shoulders during training and would really like to get some opinions on ways to fix them.

So here's a brief background, my natual reaction to stress seems to be a tightening of my neck and shoulder muscles. Over the last few weeks I've had a lot of stress at work and so even with a really good warmup before training, my neck and shoulders are quite stiff.


I called the physical therapy people (many different locations and businesses) to get the name of a good shoulder doctor. I figure that they deal with the aftermath of many procedures. Be advised that some of these places have business relationships with doctors.

I had these same symptoms and it seems like you are bunching up to protect and injury. I had neck issues, headaches, tense shoulder, spasms in my arms, etc...

I had what is called a bilateral Type II SLAP lesion. Basically the small flap that the bicep tendon attaches to was torn and partially detached from the rest of the shoulder. I had both repaired and all of that tension is just melting away. You should consider getting an MRI to see if there whas been any soft tissue damage (a tear). Take care of yourself. Use the technology that is available to heal yourself. Then when you go into physical therapy use whatever natural means you deem appropriate.

02-06-2006, 03:19 PM
[QUOTE=Gene Skiffington]I, too, suffer from chronic shoulder problems mostly from chronic subluxation (trick shoulders) as a youngster. I believe you've had many good suggestions and I'd like to synthesize and add.

Sounds like a tear to me......I could auto-sublux and it could gross some people out. I got the tears fixed and it is well worht the money.

Gene Skiff
02-07-2006, 06:51 PM
To me, surgery is a last resort. I can do almost anyhing I want to. I always ask Nage to becareful with certain movements and will make sure to stabilize my shoulder, as in the four-corner throw for example.

As for GP's (UK) or PCP's (US), we're like everybody else. There are the good and the bad. Unlike specialists, we have to know a little about everything. The key is knowing your limits, the patient's desires/needs and the available services. A fresh injury without major exam abnormalities does not need to be seen by an orthopedist right away. My initial treatments are the same as the orthopods in my area. On the other hand, if the patient has had conservative therapy without improvement it's time to send them along.