For Rotator Cuff Injuries –Try Yoga

Dov Michaeli

First posted 8/3/11 on The Doctor Weighs In

To Elizabeth, a trainer’s trainer.

My favorite thing to do in the morning is not having a cup of coffee or reading the newspaper (this usually depresses me or sends me into a rage) –it is exercising. Sounds pretty ascetic, requiring military discipline. But no, it actually isn’t; you should try it. Start slow, either with a 30- minute walk outdoors or on a treadmill. I used to run in the morning, but since I screwed up my back I switched to the elliptical. Either exercise is aerobic and beneficial. Your heart will thank you, your stiff lower back will  loosen up and your still somnolent brain will wake up to the torrent of oxygenated blood courtesy of your pumping heart. Having finished the aerobic part, I usually stretch to further loosen up my lower back and then move on to resistance exercises, such as push-ups, pull-ups, and weight lifting.

And therein lies a big problem. Doing the resistance exercises, especially the weight lifting, somehow caused frequent episodes of shoulder pain. Initially I thought I could “blast through” the pain. Mistake!!! Pain is a signal that your body is sending: stop! Something is going wrong. Acute pain can be due a stretched tendon or a muscle spasm. If you stop and let the injured area rest, things will come back to normal very quickly. But if you ignore that signal and continue exercising –chronic inflammation sets in. Not only is the pain more severe, it takes weeks and sometimes months to resolve.

One of the most frequent injuries of resistance exercises is the rotator cuff syndrome. The rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscles that attach to the shaft and head of the humerus (the bone of the upper arm) which participate in lifting the arm above the head.

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