Sunday, June 3, 2012

Simple shoulder help

Ok, so I was still a little mystified (albeit amazed) at how effective simply hanging from a bar for like 20 seconds multiple times a day is for my shoulder/neck pain.  One thing I've realized is that I've never really had a diagnosis for what's wrong with my shoulder.  I mean. I keep figuring out what muscles are tight (Scalenes, Sternocleidomastoid, etc.) and figured out some great stretches for them thanks to Kstar.

[Update 9/11/13: I'm not the only one who has blogged about how great this stretch is for undoing tight shoulders and rendering surgery unnecessary.  Here is the post about him coming across Dr. Kirsch, and here is a detailed explanation of his protocol that worked for him.]

At first I thought it was simply from laxity in the supraspinatus from injuring my shoulder and then years of sleeping on it.  However, it seems like it's a little more complicated then that, or my self-diagnosis is completely wrong (nothing new in either case).  There were definitely some instability issues in my neck, which I've fixed through prolotherapy and sleeping with a soft neck brace.  However, there are still some issues, and they feel like they come from near the center of my back, like right between the shoulder blades.

Well, since hanging from a bar seems to help, I decided to investigate: 1) what shoulder issues does it treat, and 2) why does it treat said issues.

Here is the short answer, according to one website:
  1. Hanging from a bar helps with impingement syndrome and frozen shoulder.
  2.  "This exercise does a marvelous job of stretching all of the ligaments, muscles, and tendons surrounding your shoulder joints, along with many of the soft tissues that cross your shoulder joints but that travel a good distance away from your shoulders, like your biceps tendons, triceps tendons, latissimus dorsi tendons, and even the tendons of your front chest muscles"
For a much longer, in depth look at this I found a thread that is started by someone asking about Subacromial Decompression surgery.  A certain Dr. John Kirsch is a huge fan of this whole "brachiating" (You should check out his website here), and here is what he thinks:
When you hang, you are bending the acromion and stretching the coracoacromial ligament (CA arch). Then, when you do the full side lift weight lifting, the RC tendon will become thicker, more robust and healthier. Most hardly ever use their rotator cuff muscles and the tendons become thin and fragile.
After remodelling your own CA arch, there will be more room beneath the arch for the rotator cuff, bursa, etc.

I've never heard about the coracoacromial ligament before, but it seems to be fairly important, at least to Dr. Kirsch:
The CA arch is responsible for most of our shoulder troubles. It presses on the subacromial structures (rotator cuff, bursa, biceps tendon) and when contracted due to time and disuse, produces degenerative damage in these structures. By hanging from an overhead bar or similar support; and then doing forward, side and extension dumbbell weight lifting (palms forward or down) you can restore the health of the rotator cuff tendon and muscles. Each time you stretch the CA arch by hanging, you are making more room for the RC. Over time, the deformity of the acromion will remodel (Wolff's law), and the coracoacromial ligament will stretch becoming more compliant.

Dr. Kirch actually has a book out on this, "Shoulder Pain? The Solution & Prevention, Revised & Expanded".  I plan on buying it and giving it a look over, I don't think it's too long of a read.

I'm very, very interested to see how this plays out, if I actually do have shoulder impingement and if remodeling my CA arch will help out.  So far so good, my shoulder is feeling markedly better, and I'm really, really surprised.


Jennifer Lynch said...

Hi Adam -- I stumbled upon your blog while doing research for my own shoulder. I've been reading about hanging to help alleviate shoulder pain. I'm on day 3 of hanging. I'm wondering what kind of success you've had...


Adam said...

It helped out a lot, for the first week or so I felt some pretty intense burning going on in my neck as the adhesions in my muscles were being stretched apart. Also, what used to take my massage therapist 30+ min now only takes like five, thanks to the fact my muscles are no longer wound up really tight. After the first week I stopped getting that burning, everything seems to be put back to rights. I still stretch out like once a week, but I seemed to have fixed whatever it was that was causing the tightness.

Jennifer Lynch said...

Thanks for the response. I'm glad you're doing better. I am hopeful -- Dr. Kirsch seems to swear by this treatment. I've tried many many things over the past 4 months, and have had no improvement. Maybe this will be the solution...


Adam said...

Hope it helps! Just wondering do you feel anything going on when you are on he bar? It took about 20 seconds until things started to unwind for me, then another 30 or so before the pain went away.

Jennifer Lynch said...

No, I don't feel shoulder discomfort while hanging. However it's not exactly comfortable otherwise -- it's kind of hard to breathe! I can already hang much longer on day 3 than I could on day 1...