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Shoulder Pain? Skip the Bench Press

The bench press is a great way to build strength and power. The problem is, even when done correctly a serious injury is possible and some in some cases likely. Read below to find out why.

The shoulder is one of two ball and socket joints in your body (your hip being the other). This means that the joint is capable of going through 360 degrees of motion (think of a golf ball sitting on a golf tee, that’s your shoulder.) If you can picture that analogy, you can see how the shoulder is an inherently unstable joint.

What does all this have to do with the bench press? Theoretically, If you have balanced, symmetrical shoulders you are less likely to have a serious injury. This does not include the majority, however. If you look around the room right now you will likely see many people slumped over their phones, shoulders and head forward. This rounded shoulder posture unfortunately represents many of us to some degree. With the shoulders pulled forward there is insufficient room for the rotator cuff muscles to pass under the acromion, leading to an impingment, or possible tear. Bio-mechanically, the barbell bench press fails from the get go. In a barbell bench press your shoulders are fixed in one plane (due to the bar), this means that your body cannot even compensate to avoid impingement. That pain you feel in your shoulder during the movement, don’t ignore it!

If you love to bench here are a few recommendations that will help you avoid injury, and actually get stronger!

  • Get adjusted! majority of us lack extension in our back, this motion is necessary to avoid shoulder impingement.
    Try starting out with some light, high repetition pectoral fly’s. This will allow for a more dynamic warm-up, stretching and activating the muscles.
    Stretch your pecs regularly
    Strengthen your back using exercises like the seated row.
    Avoid barbell shrugs

If you are experiencing shoulder pain don’t wait, call or schedule online now: (781) 460-0939

Keep Moving.

3 Gym Exercises to Avoid if You Have Shoulder Pain

This weeks blog post is inspired by a question I get frequently. “What exercises should I avoid for my shoulder?”Shoulder injuries are extremely prevalent in an athletic population. I would bet everyone knows someone who deals with chronic shoulder pain. Often times, the exercises we are doing can aggravate that condition making it worse, and more likely to undergo a more serious injury such as a tear.

What makes shoulder injuries so common? First off, the shoulder and the hip joint are two of the most mobile joints in your body, allowing for all ranges of motion. This also means that they can be quite unstable in many people. Much of this instability comes from muscle imbalances from poor, or improper posture. The forward drawn, rounded back posture wreaks havoc on your shoulders. The space needed for the rotator cuff muscles to pass through the subacromial space becomes too small, leading to friction, tendonitis, and eventually a tear. Whats more, the rounded shoulders locks down the joints in your neck and back. Since the scapula sits on the thoracic cage there is a direct correlation. With no extension present in you thoracic spine it is impossible for you to raise your arm above your head impingement free. Certain gym exercises can exacerbate this problem making it more likely for you to be seriously injured.

Avoid these 3 exercises and increase the health and longevity of your shoulders:

1.) Flat Barbell Bench Press: Many people with shoulder injuries find that they have more pain when doing chest press than shoulder press. Barbell bench press is an unatural movement and for those with tight, immobile shoulders can lead to a serious injury.

2.) Smith Machine Shoulder Press: Since the bar is set on a fixed path it leaves no variability for changes in movement which will cause potential compression of the shoulder tendons.

3.) Barbell Shrugs: Many people have developed rounded shoulders due to lifestyle as discussed above. carrying any amount of weight in front of your body is only going to further contribute to compression leading to injury.

We have helped many people recover from shoulder injuries. If you are experiencing pain in your shoulder don’t wait, call or schedule online today: (781) 460-0939

Keep Moving.

 

Dr. James Ellis

www.evolvedhealthchiropractic.com

Preventing “Text Neck”

Though the increases in technology over the last few years have certainly streamlined many of our daily tasks, it has began to wreak havoc on our musculoskeletal system. In fact, some studies have found that such technology may actually be shortening our lifespan. Much of this comes from the poor posture associated with doing tasks such as texting. At the very least, this is leading to conditions such as thoracic outlet syndrome, tendonitis, and degenerative change.

What is “text neck” ? Text neck is a modern ailment that many people will experience from looking down at their phone, tablet, or computer too frequently, for too long. It has been estimated that the average smart phone user spends about 2 hours per day on their phone. The average human head weighs about 12lbs but as we bend forward to look down the weight increases putting extra strain and pressure on the joints, muscles, and ligaments. As a rule of thumb, for every inch your head bends forward, the weight on the spine doubles. This prolonged strain causes inflammation and irritation of the neck and upper back, and over-time may actually change the curve in the spine potentially leading to more serious conditions.

What can you do to prevent it? Avoiding prolonged periods of usage is a good start. The problem is, over-time the inflammation causes the muscles to change length, position, and consistency leading to permanent changes in the muscle and spine. Imagine a 60 lb child hanging from your neck all day. Under this added stress the muscles begin to develop micro-tears causing scar tissue to build which will limit normal muscle function. If you do nothing, this problem tends to build and become worse. Spinal manipulation is a safe effective way to release the tight joints and stretch the tight muscles.
•Visit a Chiropractic Physician to ensure proper biomechanics of your neck and back
•Instead of looking down at your device, try to hold it in front of you to limit forward translation of your head
•Strengthen your rhomboids, and stretch your neck muscles

 

Keep Moving.

Dr. James Ellis

www.evolvedhealthchiropractic.com

(781) 460-0939

3 Gym Exercises to Avoid if You Have Neck Pain

Sometimes life can be a pain in the neck. If you are like about 60% of the work force you probably spend majority of your waking hours in seated position; whether it be on a long commute, in a cube all day, or worst yet the combination of both. The muscles of your upper back, and neck become tight, irritated, and all around unhappy.

Hitting the gym and being active is a great way to not only combat stress but give some of the other muscles in your back, such as your Rhomboids, some much needed activation work (you can read more about recommended exercises Here .) It is however possible to make the situation worse with poor form, or poor exercise choices. Below are some pit-falls to avoid:

1.) Barbell Shrugs- Most people with neck discomfort due to posture have tight upper trapezius muscles (traps). The barbell shrug is an essentially useless exercise for anything but trap work. Worst of all, majority of people use bad form when they shrug. Do your best to avoid shrugs if you are experiencing neck pain.

If you insist on shrugging try this quick fix: Grab a light pair of dumbbells, Retract (pinch together) your shoulder blades bringing the dumbbells slightly behind you, and focus on squeezing your upper back in the top of the movement. In addition to limiting pain, it will increase your trap development with less weight.

2.) Smith Machine Shoulder Press- I think most would agree that anyone with back issues should stay away from Smith Machine movements. Since the bar is confined to one plane of motion it does not allow for variability in the movement of the shoulder joint. Since the upper back is already tight and irritated it will likely lead to a more serious injury.

3.) Stomach Crunches with Hands Behind Head- Placing your hands on the back of your head during a crunch flexes your spine under tension which is a prime mechanism for a disc herniation. This position also increases stress on already irritated muscles. Instead, try crossing your arms across your chest and lifting your shoulder blades off of the floor.

If you are experiencing neck pain, now is the time to act to prevent future problems. If you would like to schedule a consultation to ensure an accurate diagnosis, Click Here .

Keep Moving.

 

Dr. James Ellis

www.evolvedhealthchiropractic.com

The Top 3 Exercise’s for Sciatica

Sciatic nerve pain or “sciatica” is characterized by burning, tingling, or numbness in one side of the buttock or leg which is relatively constant. The cause is related to compression of spinal nerves as they exit the spine. ” Sciatica” is not a specific diagnosis but a collection of symptoms. The cause of sciatica is commonly due to other medical conditions such as a disc herniation, or degenerative changes of the lumbar spine which decreases the space impinging the nerves. Below are some common symptoms that people note during “sciatica”:

  • Relatively constant pain on one side of the buttocks and/or hamstring.
  • Hamstring or calve pain that is described as burning, tingling, or numb.
  • Pain that is worse when walking or sitting
  •  Possible progressive weakness or “dead leg.”

When dealing with sciatica it is important to first visit a Chiropractic Physician or other spine specialist in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Contrary to past beliefs, “resting” the area more than a few days is not recommended. Resting more than a few days may lead to deconditioning of the surrounding muscles which may increase pressure on the irritated nerve(s) making symptoms worse. Additionally, the intervertebral discs in your spine serve as shock absorbers. There is no blood supply to the discs since they consist of cartilage. They rely on movement in order to imbibe water keeping the discs full, healthy, and nourished preventing desiccation and degenerative change. By incorporating the appropriate exercises (and eliminating some bad ones), you can strengthen the surrounding muscles, effectively decreasing pressure on the spine and preventing further occurrence’s or exacerbations. Below are 3 of my personal favorites for bracing the abdomen:

1.)Cat-Cow-

  • Begin on all four’s.
  •  Take a deep breathe in through your nose slowly filling your belly with air.
  •  Arch your back dropping your belly to the ground slowly; head up.
  •  Begin to exhale slowly drawing your hips under your body by contracting your abdomen; hold 2-3 seconds.
  • Repeat cycle (1 cycle = 1 rep)

2.) Press-Up’s-

  • Begin by lying face down on a soft surface
  • Place your palms down as if in push-up position.
  • Leaving your thighs on the ground, begin to slowly press-up, lifting your upper torso off the ground; hold 2-3 seconds, then repeat.

3.) Pelvic Tilts-

  • Begin lying on your back face-up, knees bent.
  • Take a deep breathe in through your nose, arching your back slightly pushing your stomach out.
  • Exhale slowly, pushing your belly button through the floor by contracting your abdomen; hold 2-3 seconds, then repeat cycle (1 cycle = 1 rep).

As always, please consult a health professional before attempting to self-treat.

If you are currently experiencing sciatica pain, Click Here to schedule an appointment and start healing today!

Keep Moving.

Dr. James Ellis

www.evolvedhealthchiropractic.com

Fix Your Posture- Part 3

If you have not been following a long I have been discussing the beginning stages of what some may consider as an epidemic; “postural syndrome.” So far we have addressed two very important groups of muscles that are necessary for proper postural alignment.  If you missed these posts simply click on the links to catch up (click here for Part 1, Part 2). It is important to not that these changes however do not just affect the head and neck but rather the entire spine. Moving down now to the mid-back we will begin to discuss the Rhomboids.

As discussed previously, many of us develop these postural changes due to our daily lifestyles. It is important to continue to stretch and strengthen these muscles, as many of our daily habits are fighting against proper posture; remain patient! In the image to the left we see the relative change in weight of the head due to the “slumped” posture. This position will pull he shoulders forward neurologically inhibiting the Rhomboid’s. The rhomboids are composed of a major and a minor. They are responsible for scapular retraction (pinching the shoulder blades together) and rotation of the scapula (the opposite of the picture to the left.) The rhomboids are very important for scapulothoracic rhythm ( raising your arm above your head without impingement) so Cross-Fitter’s tune in! Many people will develop rotator cuff issues due to inactivity of these muscles. Pay attention to how you are sitting currently, you will probably notice that your shoulders are pulled forward. This position means that the rhomboids are not currently active. The issue with this is over-time many of us will adapt this posture no matter what the position, seated or standing, walking, running, working-out etc. This is a recipe for disaster for anyone who is actively into working out. In fact, many of you probably do not even know how to properly contract your rhomboids. With over activity of the upper trapezius and levator scapulae the rhomboids often forget how to work properly so it is important to include rhomboid work into your routine on a weekly basis even after you have began to notice improvements in your posture.

Want to learn how to fix your posture? Click Here.

 

Dr. James Ellis

www.evolvedhealthchiropractic.com

My Top 3 Exercises for Neck Pain

One of the more common issues I have seen lately is postural neck pain. This usually results from too much sitting or desk work coupled with already sub par posture. This can lead to tension headaches, tendonitis, impingement and muscle imbalances. Treating this condition requires a custom approach.  Initially spinal manipulation along with passive stretching the perfect intervention to break the pain cycle and decrease inflammation.

How long will it take to experience relief? Relief is usually experienced immediately post treatment however it is initially temporary. Like exercising, we are trying to lengthen and strengthen certain muscles; like going to the gym it takes a few sessions to maximize results. More often than not the cause of neck pain is a result of lifestyle (i.e. sitting at your desk, sitting in your car while commuting, etc.) This being said you will occasionally need a “tune-up” a few times a year. Prevention is key!

You can and should be exercising on your own in addition, and this will be an part of you correcting your posture and maintaining it!  The more that you can do to correct the problem early on, the better off you will be. Below are three of the most effective exercises that will aid in correcting posture, and relieving pain. Give them a try; feel better to perform better.

1.) Chin Tucks: Similar to the wall angels, we will begin by standing with your back and head against the wall. I recommend starting with a small towel roll behind you’re head against the wall. Begin by placing 2 fingers on your chin; now draw your chin back into the wall (creating a “double chin”). Hold for a few seconds and relax. This will target the deep neck flexors and help to correct a forward head posture which causes increased tension in your neck due to  perceived increase in head weight.

2.) Scapular Retractions: This can be done either in a seated rowing position or prone with no weights at home. I recommend starting prone in order to perfect the movement. Remember, these are not about weight. Begin Face down, lye with your palms facing up arms at side of your body. Begin by pinching your shoulder blades together (down and back) while rotating your palms to face the floor. Additionally extend your head and chest off of the floor noting a nice stretch. This will target the rhomboids as well as mid to lower traps to correct any rounding of the shoulders.

3.) Wall Angels (scapular wall slides): Begin by standing with back against wall; feet about 18 inches away from the wall. Lift your arms up to 90 degrees (elbows perpendicular to body) and press your elbows and hands into the wall behind you. To begin, pull your elbows back and down into the wall, noticing tension in your mid to lower lats, now relax slowly back to starting position. The goal is to maintain contact with the hands, elbows, and shoulders on the wall throughout the entire movement. This exercise will target shoulder mobility as well as aiding in correcting an exaggerated kyphosis. Tip: Try these with a band for more of a challenge!

 

Keep Moving!

 

Dr. James Ellis

www.evolvedhealthchiropractic.com