A common diagnosis I see as a Physical Therapist is shoulder impingement syndrome. This syndrome involves the rotator cuff and bicep muscles. The syndrome is caused when the tendons become impinged as they pass through the subacromial space or when tendons are irritated by bony osteophytes(spurs) that form in the shoulder girdle. When this repeatedly occurs the tendons become inflamed and shoulder tendonitis develops. If not addressed it can lead to future rotator cuff tears. Prevention of these type of injuries or painful conditions is key to lasting function of your shoulder whether you are a high performance athlete, recreational sports player, workout enthusiast, or an active employee within certain occupations. Pilates is an excellent modality that I often incorporate into my rehabilitation programs as well as Pilates wellness programs to address these shoulder conditions.
The glenohumeral joint is your main shoulder joint. This joint is made up of the humerus bone which sits in a shallow glenoid fossa. This shallow joint socket allows for great mobility but sacrifices stability of the joint. The rotator cuff muscles provide the stability to this joint. Strengthening of these muscles as well as promoting good posture and alignment is important in shoulder injury prevention and providing joint support. It is also important to strengthen the periscapular musculature (the muscles surrounding the shoulder blade and upper back) as these muscles also provide stability and postural control to your shoulder. Other areas of focus when treating a painful shoulder are to address tightness in the shoulder girdle musculature and mobility of the scapula and thoracic spine for overall improved upper extremity range of motion without pain. Muscle imbalances and joint stiffness can often lead to faulty biomechanics. In addition, once injury occurs, faulty mechanics often result due to correct movement patterns being lost.
Pilates helps to correct poor muscle recruitment through postural control, flexibility, strength, and core stabilization. Pilates exercises work to ensure good posture and correct alignment of the shoulder to alleviate destructive forces on the shoulder. This can be done through isolated movements, combination movements, assistive movements specifically with Pilates apparatus, or through more dynamic and sport specific rotational movements combined with core stabilization exercises.
Shoulder impingement can be a painful condition and limit function; however, through positive movement experiences, these conditions can be effectively treated or prevented.