Recent Shoulder Pain Story: "How I made one martial artist and boxer the happiest person alive".
Those are not my words, those are his words..
I was observing one of my instructors teach a flexibility class in our Dania Beach studio. (When we add new classes, I observed the instructors a few times, to make sure all goes smoothly).
This was a back to back hamstrings flexibility and side split.
However this "happiest person alive", was not "that happy" due to his newly found leg flexibility.
Long story short, we spoke about kicking and punching and he told me that he "does not have a right hand anymore".
I looked at his right hand and it seemed fine to me.
I asked "what do you mean, you don't have a right hand? It's right there".
He said yes, but he can't use it for punching or much else. He said his shoulder hurts when he even raises the hand.
The funny thing is I looked at his shoulder and it was so obvious to me what was wrong. I just did not feel right by not saying anything and letting him just go like that.
Let me explain a very simple issue that he had, and many people also have.
First of all, it's not the "shoulder problem", it's the scapula problem.
When a punch is thrown the scapula should protract and rotate up. That's the Serratus Anterior's job.
His Serratus Anterior did not do that. Instead he protracted his scapula using Pectoralis Minor. Which of course depressed the scapula and rotated it down.
This of course cause inflammation in Biceps tendon and Supraspinatus tendon.
Very tight Rhomboids also prevented protraction and upward rotation of the scapula.
I quickly tested this to confirm. Everything was as I thought.
So I asked him to roll around on the balls, which he was happy do to. He did foam rolling before, just not in the right place on his body. For this reason it hurt quite a bit, when he did it that day.
Next I did the Kinesiological Stretching on him. Simply because having him do it himself would have taken me longer to teach it. Was faster for me to just do it for him.
- I isolated the offending muscles and stretched them.
- I asked him to roll again on the balls and stretched him again. In between I showed him how to activate the right muscles. And he did 2 sets.
- I jokingly asked if he remembered how to throw a punch with his right hand. He said he been training over 30 years..... lol
So he threw a right hand. More like extended it. First very cautiously. He could not believe what was happening. A bit of discomfort, but nothing compared to what he felt before. His scapula have moved very little for many years. And now it broke free.
He threw harder and harder, faster and faster!
After 15 or so punches, I asked him to stop. I knew that the weak Serratus will fatigue quickly and tight muscles will tighten up again. And he is still not moving his scapula 100% and still little by little irritating his tendons. With time however both range of motion and activation of muscles will stick.
Full recovery will take a bit of time, and there is no use of getting injured out of excitement.
That's when he asked me if he will have his punches back for good, if he will keep doing it, what he did there. I told him, from what I saw, he would.
And that's when he said that "I made him the happiest person alive" lol
Here is the thing. He tried stretching "his arm" in the past (arm is not a joint or a muscle but that's a figure of speech I guess. Kinesiologists pick on sayings like these; "I stretched my arm", "I opened my hips"). What he tried to do is force his arm where it did not go, but where he thought it should go. Of course causing more injury in the process.
In simple terms... If you can't raise your arm, the worst thing you can do is try to forcefully raise your arm. Instead you should stretch the tight muscles and strengthen the weak or non-activating ones, but without moving in a way that aggravates the pain or injury.
- Remember: Each muscle does more than one action. Use the one that does not hurt. Isolate it.
While we offer many classes on all kinds of hips, splits, core flexibility, this made me remember how happy a healthy shoulder can make someone. (I say, "Remember", because I had my injuries as well).
If you are interested in shoulder programs, you can get them here.