Man, isnt it a brutal day when it hits us that we are no longer hitting the gym to try look a certain way, rather just to keep up with the younger generation? I know personally that the first time I had to think twice about bending over just because I was stiff, I heard echoes from all of my older clients telling me that, “One day it will all catch up with you.” What they meant is all the hours on the treadmill, and all the thousands of pounds lifted for thousands of repetitions will add up and one day your body will revolt and scream loudly “NO MORE!” I know exactly what it feels like to walk into a gym and know what it feels like to bench press with the best of anyone in the gym, but not be able to do it because the shoulder “ain’t workin.” But I also know there is an answer. One of the great things about exercise as a science is that it is constantly evolving. With that being said, gone are the day’s when we thought that each joint is exclusive to itself.
The work of Thomas Meyers in Anatomy Trains has really been an eye opener to me. It really wasnt just all the dissections that were shown in accompanying DVD, but more so it was that he was stressing the importance of fascia. Now, when I was am undergraduate, all I knew about fascia was that is it was the sticky substance underneath the skin that would get in our way of seeing muscle after dissecting away the skin of a fetal pig. (True story: My zoo-olgy professor would have throw it away about 15 years ago.) So when Meyers not only shows is importance but introduces the idea of myofascial lines as a soft tissue pattern for how the body connects itself my mind was really blown.
Take a look real quick at the patterns his dissections “un-covered.” ( get it–“un-covered”, dissections…OK, BAD JOKE!)
What happens at your toe very easily could effect what happens at your shoulder. Here is an easy way to illustrate this point with a little drill im stealing from Michol Dalcourt. Try standing in with your back to a mirror. Raise your arm in front of you as if you were pointing a gun and rotate as far as you can to the right as possible. Note how far you get then do it again. The difference this time, try rolling your left foot on its side and note the diiference. This is just an example of the how the Spiral Line could affect mobility.
With that being said in regards to your shoulder, we need to look at the big picture and address all the parts that could make up the whole. Meaning ASSESS..ASSESS…ASSSESS, doesnt mean just looking at the shoulder will necessarily solve the problem of pain. It means looking at the whole and seeing how it may affect the part.
I deal with the average person regularly but I like to use athletes when relating movement to them. Sports really exaggerate and display human movement patterns. For many “throwers” in sport, it isnt un-common to be able to create a link between poor big toe flexibility and shoulder problems. I think its usually viewed as a joke but if your big toe isn’t allowed to its job and act as a break, then your hip won’t extend real help, your torso won’t twist, and your shoulder will feel the end result. That just doesnt seem too fair to me.
There are many forms of arthritis and if you have been diagnosed then you will understand it better than I. Being that you are in the athletic population, there are many that suffer from arthritis as a result from years of wear and tear. The inflammatory response of joints being un-aligned for many moon results in pain. The keyword in that sentence is”un-aligned.” I repeat un-aligned. One more time….UN-ALIGNED. Whomever created our body was really smart and likely female. I say this because it is so well organized (at least in my house, my wife is the one who has everything where it needs to go!) Our bodies are designed to have a skeletal system that stacks bones on top of joints that should be capable of standing for hours without any kind of pain. Our muscles should connect these bones and joints to allow effortless movement capable of 150 years. Those muscles are enveloped by fascia that lets them slide and glide across one another so that we can move from here to there easily. The fascia is really the centerpiece of our joint health. Now, if I were you, I would get it out of my head that the shoulder is the source of your problems. It isnt…its where you feel pain, but painful joints are typically like the meat in a sandwich of dysfunctional joints.
Try a couple quick assessments to see if there are other joints affect this are. First, just stand in front of a mirror. If you can see more than your first knuckle, your arm is twisting a little too much in its socket. Second, have someone take a photo of your side. If your collarbone and the big notch in your neck dont line up, your shoulder blades tilt downward too much. Both things can indicate that muscles aren’t lined up and balanced. Corrective exercise coupled with foam rolling and flexibility can roll your shoulder back in place and properly position your scapula once again. Fix that that you will be throwing once again with the best of them.
Hope this helps,
Categories: better movement training