Shoulder injury prevention?

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Child of the Abyss

climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - May 13, 2013 - 12:21am PT
I don't have any shoulder injuries... yet, but like many people who've been rock climbing for a long time, my shoulders sit much further forward than they should naturally, and are starting to generally feel out of whack (such as some cracking noises when I'm climbing).

So, rather than wait for a rotator cuff injury, I'd like to start being proactive about protecting my shoulders. I'm making this post looking for good advice about how best to do that. I've heard that stretching your chest muscles is important. I've also heard that building your chest muscles is important. I don't know much about physiology, but those two pieces of advice seem somewhat contradictory to me.

I've heard people say that pushups are a good way for climbers to prevent shoulder injuries. Any truth to that?

Thanks in advance for any helpful advice, even if it's just a link to a useful information source!
pud

climber
Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
May 13, 2013 - 12:28am PT
Work on your traps. You'll have better posture and more support for your shoulders.
Oh yeah, don't worry. Mental stress makes you weak.
nature

climber
Boulder, CO
May 13, 2013 - 12:30am PT
Yoga. Especially one that offers alignment as a foundation.

It sounds like you look like an unhappy monkey.

The instruction to moving your shoulders to the back body (and thus better protecting the shoulder joint):

Move the head of your arm bones towards your ears (without shrugging them).

then move the head of the arm bones to the back body.

Move your shoulder blades down the back body brining them closer together w/o pinching them together.

Broaden across the front of the upper chest.

Another thing you can do if you sit at a desk, etc. is make a loop out of a a piece of webbing. slide your arm though the loop, pass the loop around your back and slide the other arm through. That'll help remind you to keep a better posture.

Good for you for taking and active approach to this.
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
May 13, 2013 - 01:17am PT
Avoid intensive climbing gym sessions, especially on overhanging stuff and awkward traverses.
I had no shoulder probs until I started gym workouts.
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
May 13, 2013 - 01:21am PT
The instruction to moving your shoulders to the back body (and thus better protecting the shoulder joint):
Move the head of your arm bones towards your ears (without shrugging them).
then move the head of the arm bones to the back body.
Move your shoulder blades down the back body brining them closer together w/o pinching them together.
Broaden across the front of the upper chest.

Hi Doug

Tried to visualize this and... Nothing.

Seriously. What does "Move the head of your arm bones towards your ears (without shrugging them)" mean.

If you could re-write this for the under-five crowd that hangs here on ST, I'd appreciate it. Maybe with diagrams? Or videos?

Oh, and one other thing: When's your next trip north?
the Fet

climber
Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
May 13, 2013 - 03:42am PT
http://www.oneresult.com/articles/training/key-preventing-shoulder-injuries

I've had shoulder impingement syndrome for a while. I recently saw an orthopedic dr. and he said some of the things a physical therapist told me to do a few years ago were wrong!

The link above is good, my doc has me doing the internal rotation, external rotation, and thumbs down with light resistance, 40 reps, twice a day. My bad shoulder is already doing much better after less than a week.
JeDrake

Trad climber
Sydney, Australia
May 13, 2013 - 06:05am PT
Horst discusses shoulder exercises for injury prevention at some length in his "How to climb 5.12" book. I've been using the following as a general guide to help strengthen a weak shoulder following a dislocation and rotatorcuff tear, and I think it's working for me. The basic idea is to strengthen the antagonist muscles to balance out all of the training that the "pulling" muscles get from climbing. Strong muscles, particularly the small rotator cuff muscles, make the shoulder more stable and less injury-prone.

-Internal rotation. Lie on your side with your bottom arm in front of you, with your elbow tucked in close to your chest. With your elbow at a 90-deg angle, rotate a 5-10lb dumbbell such that your forearm hits your chest. Your shoulder acts as a door hinge, allowing your forearm to open and close.
-External rotation. Same as for internal, but with the opposite arm. That is, if you're lying on your right side, keep your left elbow at your side at a 90-degree angle. Rotate a 5-lb dumbbell up until your forearm is parallel to the floor.
-Bench press or push ups. Go for lots of reps with low/moderate weight.
-Dips
-Shoulder press. Lots of reps with low/moderate weight.
Mike Friedrichs

Sport climber
City of Salt
May 13, 2013 - 09:51am PT
What Nature said -- Anusara yoga.
nature

climber
Boulder, CO
May 13, 2013 - 10:01am PT
I no longer call it that, Mike ;-)

I'll see if I can re-do that Ghost.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
May 13, 2013 - 10:14am PT
Avoid excessive external rotation combined with abduction - this is the most common cause of dislocation.

Don't get into these positions:

Bad
http://www.maitrise-orthop.com/corpusmaitri/orthopaedic/88_gagey/fig05.jpg

Bad
http://www.intechopen.com/source/html/40389/media/image5.jpeg

Bad
http://openi.nlm.nih.gov/imgs/rescaled512/2753616_1749-7221-4-15-2.png


Strengthen your rotator cuff with internal and external rotational exercises with light weights or TheraBand (build endurance and strength without hypertrophy).



kc

Trad climber
the cats
May 13, 2013 - 10:27am PT
swim.
Mike Friedrichs

Sport climber
City of Salt
May 13, 2013 - 10:54am PT
Yeah Nature, my teacher does not either. For obvious reasons. But the universal principals of alignment are still worthwhile. I like the generic term of alignment-based yoga.

Hand stands and arm balances are really good shoulder openers. Warm up well first!
paganmonkeyboy

climber
mars...it's near nevada...
May 13, 2013 - 12:19pm PT
also research proper technique for exercising your shoulders - you don't want to overdo certain motions or go past certain points while training as this will damage the shoulders...good luck ;-)
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
May 13, 2013 - 01:53pm PT
I've heard that stretching your chest muscles is important. I've also heard that building your chest muscles is important. I don't know much about physiology, but those two pieces of advice seem somewhat contradictory to me.

Yeah it is counter-intuitive at first, but flexibility and strength are not mutually opposed.

The hips and the shoulders are ball and socket type joints. The hips are more stable and less mobile, while the shoulders trade stability for mobility. As a climber you will be best served by having shoulders which are stable and well aligned, with good range of motion but not hyper mobile. What I am saying is don't get carried away with the mobility.

When you are standing or walking, which way are your palms facing? Your shoulders are in neutral alignment when the palms are facing inward to your thighs. A lot of people walk around with their palms facing to the rear due to internal rotation of the shoulder. If this is you, try rotating your palms to face your thighs or even slightly forward by drawing your shoulders back. You should feel your chest open and your body become more erect.

Scapular push ups are good:

Assume a push-up position but with arms bent: You’re on your elbows, forearms parallel on the floor, hands in gentle fists or karate chops, palms facing each other. Inhale and lower your breast bone toward the floor by drawing the shoulders back. Exhale and lift the breastbone away from the floor by drawing the shoulders forward. You want to feel your shoulder blades sliding forward and back around your rib cage. Move slowly with control, work equally hard going down as up. The movement is not large, and comes entirely from the shoulders. Use your back muscles to keep the shoulders wide and away from your ears and avoid flexing and extending your back or neck or hinging at your hips to get a bigger movement.

Inhale when opening the chest and exhale opening the back (drawing shoulders forward.) Fill and empty your lungs but do not give up abdominal engagement on the inhale. If you have difficulty finding or controlling the movement, start with your plank on your knees and progress to plank from the toes when you have it dialed in.

You can progress this exercise by doing it from a full plank position with straight arms. You can test your alignment in plank by having someone lay a broom handle or pvc pipe on your spine. It should rest on your sacrum (just below your waist) your T-Point (between your shoulder blades,) and the back of your head. About 1/2" of space between your lower back and the stick is about right.
jogill

climber
Colorado
May 13, 2013 - 03:21pm PT
Stay away from the still rings. They use these in Crossfit, and there will eventually be a lot of problems for young ladies (and men) who work them rigorously. I should know - I have severe shoulder arthritis at age 76 from the routines and moves I used to do on the rings many, many years ago.

A well-respected shoulder orthopod from Colorado Springs told me that dips are especially harmful, whether on the rings or parallel bars. So just be careful if you do them.

The other exercises mentioned on this thread sound pretty good.
Michelle

Social climber
1187 Hunterwasser
May 13, 2013 - 03:29pm PT
Lol, just did some scapular pushups for the hell of it. Cool work out. I like yoga for many things.
darkmagus

Mountain climber
San Diego, CA
May 13, 2013 - 03:36pm PT
I really liked what was written about it in the "how to climb 5.12" book.

In general I would say: perform exercises with resistance in external rotation and internal rotation (google it for a pic/video). The amount of the resistance should be minimal at first (use bands, tubes, etc. (Thera-bands are what I give to my patients.). Slowly work your way up in resistance and do these exercises 2-3 times per day.

I've noticed that folks with shoulder instability or weakness, with pain arising as a result of those two factors, achieve great results by a diligent strengthening program for the rotator cuff.

I would avoid excessive working-out of the larger muscles, particularly the deltoid, but also the trapezius. If they become too strong or bulky they can contribute to other problems (e.g. impingement syndrome).
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
May 13, 2013 - 03:52pm PT
Here's a decent routine I use (use most of it anyway):

http://www.dpmclimbing.com/articles/view/one-workout-every-climber-should-do
skywalker

climber
Jan 3, 2014 - 11:29pm PT
After reading the above posts...So I'm having shoulder issues that I think are bicep (tendon?) impingement issues. I warm-up by using a rock or light dumbbell and do raises to the front and side before climbing (several sets). Is this wrong then for warming up? I realize I probably need to strengthen a lot of things but this is where I'm looking at injury land.

S...
Aunty Glen

Trad climber
Australia
Mar 10, 2014 - 10:00pm PT
Skywalker,

As a climber with injured shoulders ... what is probably most important is making sure your scapula is well positioned while doing these warm ups. A physiotherapist can show you what this means.

Glyn
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