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#101: How to Manage Chronic Shoulder Pain

#101: How to Manage Chronic Shoulder Pain

Your shoulders take a beating, whether you’re sitting at your desk or swimming laps in the pool. Think about it. At your desk, your arms are in a fixed position for hours on end, typing on your computer and clicking the mouse. During training, you’re likely executing rep after rep of the same movements, like kipping pull-ups or your golf swing. No wonder as many as 26% of us report shoulder pain. Let’s talk about a few simple ways you can address chronic pain in the shoulder.


How to Alleviate Muscular Pain in the Shoulder


Finding Strength Imbalances = Finding Weakness


When you do dumbbell presses, are you able to press 40 pounds on the left side and 50 pounds on the right?


That imbalance could possibly translate to muscle pain in the shoulder. Imagine what happens when you go to do something like an overhead squat, where both shoulders need to be chipping in equally.


If your left side can’t support enough weight, then your right side is going to have to compensate for that. This means that your right shoulder ends up doing more work. Over time, this can take a serious toll on your right side.


Finding these one-sided weaknesses will allow you to correct these imbalances. An easy way to find them is with unilateral exercises, where only one side of your body is working at a time. Dumbbell (or kettlebell) presses are a good example. You could also experiment with more stability-related exercises, like one-armed planks. If you can easily support yourself on one arm but not the other, you know something’s off.


Acknowledge Surrounding Areas


Muscular pain in the shoulder might not actually be originating in the shoulder. It could be starting in your neck, for instance.


Therefore, chronic pain in the shoulder can be lessened by addressing the neck.


You might consider stretches for shoulder and neck pain relief, especially if you sit at a desk all day. Head rolls and shoulder rolls are a simple way to start loosening up those muscles before you tackle your next sweat session.


Other exercises for shoulder and neck pain relief should focus on mobility — again, especially if you spend much of your time sitting. When you spend an extended period of time in one position, your muscles start to tighten in that position.


Another place shoulder pain can start? Your pecs. Poor posture (particularly from sitting — are you noticing a pattern?) is often a culprit. When you slouch, your shoulders round forward. And then your pecs tighten up, making it harder to correct that forward roll. This can lead to shoulder, neck, and upper back pain.


Imagine, then, heading to the gym and knocking out rep after rep of 200-pound split jerks. Your body won’t be thrilled.


There are countless ways to improve your muscles’ range of motion, and electric muscle stimulation can help, as well. PowerDot works by triggering tiny muscle contractions that ultimately help improve blood flow, send more oxygen and nutrients to your tissues, improve muscle strength, and support mobility.


Keep in mind so many injuries start with a lack of mobility. By making this a priority before and after your training — and even on your rest days — you’ll have a much better plan of attack when it comes to managing and reducing chronic pain in the shoulder.


Have a Defined Recovery Plan


A moment ago, we mentioned rest days, so let’s talk about that.


Too often, we treat rest days as a chance to do literally nothing, and we ignore our bodies, even if they’re crying for help. Yes, there will be instances when total rest is what you need, but those days are the exception to the rule — especially if you’re experiencing pain. This is the most important time to take your recovery and rest days seriously.


We’re not telling you to turn your rest days into training days. You still need time to recharge and replenish. Rather, we’re suggesting that you take an active approach to recovery. Your body wants this.


We’ve already talked about doing stretches for shoulder pain, to help address tightness and immobility. But there are other things you can do. Epsom salt baths are a safe bet. Epsom salt is made up of magnesium and sulfate, and magnesium can help to reduce inflammation and thus, pain. Soak in a hot bath and you could feel almost immediate relief.


Once again, electric muscle stimulation can help, too. PowerDot has two main functions: to improve muscle health and performance, and to reduce pain and discomfort, using transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).


You can address your shoulder pain head-on by consistently using electric muscle stimulation in the area causing you grief. A TENS unit works by stopping pain signals from reaching your central nervous system. Because those pain signals don’t reach your brain, your body can’t actually experience the sensation.


But the benefits are twofold. TENS also encourages your body to produce and release more endorphins, which are your natural painkillers. Essentially, PowerDot can teach your body to heal itself.


It’s not an overnight miracle cure, but nothing really is, which is why we recommend that you incorporate TENS into your regular recovery. When you use it consistently, not only will your current pain largely subside, but you’ll experience less pain in the future.


Diagnosing and treating chronic shoulder pain can be tricky, but there are a number of avenues you can take to tackle the problem. Yes, it might take some trial and error, but if you’re consistent in correcting your imbalances and weaknesses, you treat the surrounding areas, and you take your rest and recovery seriously, you’re going to see results.


Experiencing soreness is normal, when you’re physically active, but we can’t stress this enough: You should not be living in pain! There are solutions available to you.


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