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The Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists

Exercising your way to a shoulder injury?

A well known Sydney-based shoulder specialist (Simon Tan) once said to me if ever you see someone do a shoulder dip just hand them a physio card!!! It sounded pretty radical and possibly a bit cheeky to put into action, but he certainly had a point!

Rotator cuff injuries are easily the most common shoulder disorder that most musculoskeletal physiotherapists come across in daily practice. But PREVENTION is ALWAYS better than cure….so here are a few tips on how YOU can AVOID causing harmful stress on your rotator cuff!

Firstly, the rotator cuff is not one but FOUR muscles arising from your shoulder blade that merge together and attach in an arc around the ball (or head) of your shoulder. They literally act like a cuff that keeps the head of the shoulder centred in its socket. Outside of this however lies your deltoid – that round muscle on the outside of your shoulder that we all love to look toned! But the deltoid already exerts a very strong upward pull of the shoulder and this pull has to be counteracted by a downward pull of your relatively weaker (and smaller) rotator cuff in various arm positions (See diagram). So here lies the potential for a whole lot of unpleasant extra stress on your rotator cuff… especially if you like to perform repetitive exercises such as shoulder dips or triceps bench dips.

BUT if you DO love your shoulder dips and can’t see yourself quitting anytime soon, check out the video below, which offers very useful tips on minimising these stresses! ….And watch this space if you’d like some tips on toning your triceps without compromising your rotator cuff!

By Barbara Trant MISCP

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