Medical – Dealing with shoulder injuries

Drop-and-catch-standing-bent-arm-front

Shoulder injuries are common among motorcyclists, especially in riders who have taken a tumble or two off-road. Suzie Bostock explains how to train your shoulder to become strong again.

The shoulder is the most flexible joint in the body with the largest range of movement available, so it’s no wonder it’s vulnerable to instability and injury. Shoulder dislocations and subluxations (partial dislocation) can happen due to many types of incidents, particularly when you land on your shoulder or arm, so it’s quite common in motorcyclists, especially those who ride off-road. Once it has happened the first time, it may be more likely to happen again in the future.

Surgery may sometimes be needed but, in many circumstances, it’s a good idea to train your shoulder to be strong again using exercises. Here are some exercises you can use
to improve your shoulder strength and control when you have shoulder instability. Remember, never do any exercises which cause pain or a feeling that the shoulder will dislocate.

Shoulder-Pain-1

You should only do one exercise from section 1 and one exercise from section 2 at any one time. Start with 1a and 2a twice a day, then progress through the exercises slowly as you are able, but do not progress too fast. Only move on to the next exercise once you’ve met the target for the previous exercise. Do not keep going with the exercise if your shoulder becomes fatigued.

If you’re having significant issues with your shoulder, recurrent dislocations, subluxations, or you’ve had a recent dislocation (in the past three to six months), I would highly recommend making a visit to a physiotherapist. They can create a personalised exercise programme for you and decide if a referral to an orthopaedic specialist is required, especially if things are not improving.

1a Drop and catch standing

1kg (straight arm) | Target reps: 100

Stand with your arm diagonally out to the side, arm straight and level with your shoulder. Let go of the weight and quickly catch it again before it drops on the floor.

Drop-and-catch-standing-straight-arm

1B Drop and catch standing

1kg (bent arm) | Target reps: 100

Stand with your arm out to the side, elbow bent to 90 degrees and level with your shoulder. Let go of the weight and quickly catch it again before it drops on the floor.

Drop-and-catch-standing-bent-arm

1c Drop and catch lying down

1kg (bent arm) for forward (anterior) dislocations of the shoulder | Target reps: 100

Lie on your back with your arm out to the side, elbow bent and arm rotated upwards. Let go of the weight and let your arm drop a little and catch the weight. Be careful to take care with this exercise. Do not do it if it causes pain or apprehension (just as you shouldn’t with all the other exercises) and be careful that you do not force or allow your arm to drop back and down too much.

Drop-and-catch-lying-bent-arm

2a Single-hand ball roll on wall

Target time: 60 seconds

Get a small football-sized ball and place it on the wall directly in front of you. Place your hand on the ball, putting your weight on it. In a slow, controlled manner, roll the ball up and down as far as comfortable.

Single-hand-ball-roll-on-wall

2b Single-handed kneeling crosses

(Do not do this exercise if you have knee problems) | Target time: 60 seconds

Use an exercise mat or other comfortable surface. Kneel and then place the hand of your affected arm on the floor, putting your weight through your affected arm. Shift your body weight through the arm by using your other arm to reach out and point in the shape of a cross.

Single-handed-kneeling-crosses

2c Kneeling single-hand ball roll

(Do not do this exercise if you have knee problems) | Target time: 60 seconds

Use an exercise mat or other comfortable surface. Kneel and place the hand of your affected arm on a small football or similar, keeping the arm straight and other arm behind your back. Roll the ball forwards and back a little in a slow, controlled manner while keeping good posture. Start with the ball closer to you and slowly move it a little further away as you are able and feel comfortable doing so.

These exercises are based on the Derby Shoulder Instability Rehabilitation Programme. Visit bit.ly/Derby-Shoulder-Programme for a selection of video exercise guides, including for those above. These exercises do not take the place of individualised professional advice and assessment. If you choose to use the exercises, you do so at your own risk as a one-to-one physiotherapy assessment is always recommended before starting any rehabilitation programme.

Other things to consider

Make sure you avoid any general activity that makes the shoulder feel like it will pop out, cause pain, or cause the shoulder to significantly fatigue such as repetitive activities or lifting heavy objects or weights. Lifting the arm out to the side (abduction) and taking the hand back (lateral rotation) at the same time can often be a very provocative position for instance. For a reference list or any queries, please get in touch with me at suzie@overlanderhealth.com.