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Episode 238: Reflexes That Can Change Shoulder Pain

Video Highlights

- Basic shoulder reflexes
- Using those reflexes for relief
- Easy isometric loading drills

Do you have shoulder pain, or restricted range of motion?

If so, we’re going to use some cool, neuro-reflexes today, to help improve what you’re experiencing.

We’ve been talking for the last few weeks about pain, different inputs, and how pain can be created from visual issues, from breathing issues, from all kinds of stuff, but I also want to point out that how we move through the world can also influence our mechanics, and eventually our pain.

So what I’m gonna show you today are a couple of quick fixes for restricted ranges of motion in the shoulder, or pain, by using, or taking advantage of neurology. All right?

So the easiest way for me to explain this is to think about walking. All right?

When we walk, our arms swing opposite one-another, right? They don’t swing like this, hopefully. And hopefully they do move.

It’s not normal to walk and not have your arms not in motion, ’cause we have actual pathways devoted to this in our nervous system.

Now one of the things that’s very useful in understanding this is that you can take advantage of some of these inborn reflexes, or native reflexes, to help improve movement, and improve pain issues.

So let me give you a very simple follow-along plan based off your shoulder.

So the first thing I need you to think about, let’s say we’re gonna work on my right shoulder, and we’re going to test this motion, all right? So I move up like this. This is called shoulder flexion.

Now if I have problems, I come up and I go, “Okay, I have pain, or I start to get stiff right in here.” I want you to think about what would be the opposite motion, with the other arm, in a normal portion of the gait cycle.

So if I’m having issues here, what we would be doing in a gait cycle, if we were really moving our arms, is our other arm would be going backwards. It would be going into what’s called extension.

Now one of the things that we find is that by activating, if you want to call it that, or facilitating the extension on the opposite side of the body, we can actually improve flexion on the side we’re interested in.

So if you, again, have problems in this motion, here’s an easy way to start to work on it. You can grab a band. It doesn’t have to be a band, it can be a rope, anything that you want to work on, anything you want to use, and you can load isometrically the non-painful, non-stiff arm, into the opposite motion of the motion of the motion that you want to improve.

So, for instance, I’m here, I want to improve my shoulder flexion. All right? So what I can do is I can load the opposite arm into the opposite motion.

So in this particular case, I’m gonna take the band, I’m gonna pull my arm backwards, all right? I’ll stay a nice tall posture, so this is activating the extension on this side is just hard because I’m utilizing a band.

So I’m gonna pull hard into extension, and I’m gonna hold that. Six, seven, eight seconds. As I’m holding, I’m going to actually keep working on, and retesting the restricted range of motion that I have. All right?

So that’s version number one, where I do an isometric hold into the opposing motion.

Male and female athletes doing push ups together

So let’s say I have problems raising my arm out to the side. This is called abduction. The opposite of that would be pulling my arm into my side.

So let’s say I’m stuck here. Grab my band, wrap it up, pull into my side, so I’m now activating adduction on this side, and as I hold that, I then go back and keep practicing the problematic range, making sure that I’m not moving into pain.

Now that’s version one of this particular series.

The second version of this is to actually reverse the movements. Now what I mean by that is pretty simple.

In this last example, I was holding an isometric contraction, meaning I’m just pulling and holding on the non-dysfunctional side, as I’m moving the opposite side.

What we want to do now is we actually want to work the opposite side while we’re holding the dysfunctional side still.

Let me give an example. Right shoulder, let’s say it’s a problem here. I have pain, or I have restriction. What I’m gonna do is I’m gonna come to that spot and then I’m gonna reduce my range of motion. I don’t want to be right at the edge of pain, all right, I want to be back below. Edge of the Grand Canyon, take one big step back.

All right, so come down below that. Hold that position, and now I’m going to actually use the band, and do some small repetitions of motion into the opposing direction. All right?

So in this particular case, I’m pulling my arm in, that’s called adduction, so I’m just going to do that five, six, seven times, holding this position. Relax, and retest. All right?

So it’s two different versions. In one, we’re holding an isometric on the good side. In the second version, I’m moving the good side, while holding a safe isometric position on the dysfunctional side.

Now I know this can be a little confusing. You might want to take a piece of paper out and write it down, or figure out a little diagram, but conceptually, it’s very simple. And as I said, it’s all based off the fact that when you have some intrinsic wiring patterns in the spinal cord and the brain, that whenever I flex my right arm, that naturally helps me extend my left arm, depending on what parts of the musculature we’re looking at.

So this is not a fix it for everybody kind of exercise. But in many cases, we find that the addition of something like this to other things that we’ve already been working on, is a really, really powerful rehab tool.

We also use exercises like this in a gym setting, in an athletic setting, in order to facilitate better function, so even if you’re not in pain, and you’re just wanting to get stronger, in a given motion, you may find that using some kind of similar setup actually improves your results.

So I know this one can be a little confusing. If you have any questions, type your questions below the blog. We’ll get back to you, try and give you some direction.

Otherwise, just go slowly with it, play with it. This little exploration. And see what happens.

As I said, in many cases, this is a really, really powerful addition to what you’re already doing for your shoulders.

Good luck.

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