Protect Your Shoulder This Ski Season
By guest author and physical therapist Laura Garcia
You are bombing down your favorite run, you catch an edge and find yourself creating a yard sale down the mountain. Your arm is outstretched one direction and your body another. When the snow settles you feel an intense pain in your shoulder, maybe some numbness or tingling, and a deep desire to keep your arm close to your body. The ligaments that are designed to hold your shoulder joint together reached their limit and allowed the ball of your upper arm to slide out of the socket dislocating your shoulder.
To minimize pain and maximize success, you want to get your shoulder back in place as soon as possible. Fortunately, emergency medical staff are well versed in relocating shoulders. Unfortunately, your supportive ligaments are now a bit stretched out leaving you more susceptible to future dislocations. Strengthening the muscles surrounding your shoulder may have helped prevent this type of injury and will now be crucial for avoiding subsequent dislocations.
The following are intermediate to advanced exercises to help create and restore shoulder stability. If you have recently injured your shoulder, please consult with your health practitioner to determine the exact nature of your injury, your stage of recovery, and your readiness for these or any exercises. You should always be able to perform these exercises without increased pain.
Modified Plank on Ball: Place elbows on the ball shoulder width apart, keep your body lengthened in a plank position with your core engaged and your spine in a neutral position. Using your elbows, slowly roll the ball forward and back 10 times while maintaining your body position. Rest and then repeat for a total of 3 sets.
Plank to Side Plank: Maintain a neutral spine position by engaging your deep abdominals. Press your sternum away from the floor while keeping your shoulders away from your ears. Hold this plank position 10 seconds. Then, slowly rotate your shoulder moving into a side plank position while maintaining your body alignment. Hold 10 seconds and then slowly rotate back to your starting plank position. Repeat 5-10 times depending on your ability to maintain form.
Ball Walkouts: Start with the ball under your hips and slowly work your way into a plank position. Initially you can start with the ball resting on your thighs or shins until you have enough strength and control to balance on your toes. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds. To increase the challenge, take small steps with your hands forward and back alternating arms. You should be able to maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise. Repeat for 3 sets.
Kettlebell Rotations: Hold kettlebell at or just above shoulder height. Maintain shoulder blades back and down and slowly rotate the kettlebell from the elbow keeping the shoulder steady. Perform 10 rotations. Repeat 3 sets for a total of 30 rotations.
Supine Kettlebell Press and Hold w/Sidelying Rotation: Slowly press kettlebell over your chest. Maintaining the position of the kettlebell with a straight elbow, slowly rotate your body onto your side and then return to your back. Perform 10 times. Repeat 3 sets for a total of 30.
Laura Garcia graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from UC Irvine. In 2006 she received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, CA. She has worked the last 13 years treating individuals of all ages with orthopedic and neurologic dysfunctions. Laura is currently working at Synergy Healing Arts in Truckee. Combining her fields of study, she strives to help others protect and balance their bodies in order to maximize their dynamic function.