It seems unlikely but shoulder exercises helped me to lose weight and get fit or to be more accurate helped me get back in shape.
Around a year ago I tore my rotator cuff. Up until then I had been a reasonably fit person, I ran three times a week, I had occasional bouts of gym membership, swam once a week, Played squash, played gold and looked after myself pretty well. I was in my early fifties, in good shape and proud of it.
And then I hurt my shoulder. I woke up one morning with a painful shoulder. I knew I had hurt it the day before lifting something that was too heavy but had thought little of it. Over the following few days my shoulder deteriorated. What started out as a sore shoulder became an arm that was constantly hurting; lifting my arm to the side or front caused pain. Getting showered, getting dressed all became difficult. The more I used my arm the worse it felt.
The gym stopped, I couldn't swim, squash and golf both had to go and finally the running became too painful. Every step caused a shooting pain through my shoulder.
I went to the doctor, who diagnosed a rotator cuff problem and referred me to a specialist. The specialist confirmed a torn rotator cuff and gave me a steroid injection to ease the inflammation and pain. It helped for a week or two but the pain came back. Another steroid injection had the same effect so in the end I was booked for surgery to free up a trapped tendon.
All this was taking time, time in which I was unable to exercise because of the pain. Gentle walking was about all I could manage. I put on weight, my general fitness levels went down and all because of a simple shoulder injury.
I was booked for surgery but it was three months off so in desperation I started researching shoulder injuries and how to treat them. I found out that shoulder exercises are a big part of most shoulder therapy programmes especially rotator cuff problems.
Your rotator cuff helps to move and stabilise the shoulder joint especially when you rotate your arms or raise them above shoulder height. If you damage your rotator cuff it beocmes inflamed and in some cases the tendons can become pinched against the shoulder blade. This is what happened in my case.
The idea with shoulder exercises in rotator cuff injuries is to strengthen the shoulder muscles to give extra support to the rotator cuff and allow it to heal. It is important to treat the inflammation, resting the shoulder completely to let it start to heal before you try any exercise. I gave it a go.
By now my shoulders were quite weak from lack of exercise so I began with some simple stretching exercises to improve mobility, following up with low resistance, low weight exercises to begin strengthening the muscles. Gradually over the next few weeks I increased the intensity of the exercises. My shoulder started to get better. I could feel it getting stronger and improving as each week went by. The exercises focused on control and flexibility not just strength.
I am now back to running, have started swimming again and even played a round of golf. The surgery has been postponed, the weight is starting to go and I feel a lot fitter. So don't underestimate the power of simple shoulder exercises. They definitely changed my life for the better.
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