The Saga of a Shoulder Injury Continued—Recalibrating the Muscle Firings

October 11, 2010

What started out as a minor injury gradually morphed into a classic case of frozen shoulder! According to Wikipedia, “Frozen shoulder is a disorder in which the connective tissue surrounding the shoulder capsule becomes inflamed and stiff, greatly restricting motion and causing chronic pain, adhesions and scar tissue in the joint. Certain movements can cause sudden onset of tremendous pain and cramping that can last several minutes. People who suffer from frozen shoulder usually experience problems sleeping for extended periods due to pain that is worse at night.” Boy! Wikipedia’s description fit me like a glove I didn’t want to wear; right down to the cramping and lack of sleep due to night pain.

In time my arm felt and looked like it was pinned onto my body, a pathetic appendage useless and lifeless. I knew that my muscles weren’t doing their job; they’d gone on strike and weren’t firing up when they should. The problem I had was with the muscles in the rotator cuff. Muscles work in pairs; as one tenses it stabilizes the area allowing the other muscle to release and lengthen. The muscles that were needed to support the shoulder had stopped firing when it was injured causing my shoulder to be so unstable that my brain began to get nervous and started the process of freezing all active movement. The muscles needed to get a kick start to fire up again and the scar tissue that I knew was starting to form as a result of the inflammation needed to be stretched and broken up. My whole system needed a wake up call but where would I find someone that could help me with this?

A friend of mine who happens to be a chiropractor had taken a course in Active Release Technique®, a therapy designed to release deep adhesions in muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia and nerves to re-activate proper muscle firing and function. It is similar to a technique I had developed for use with my own clients so I knew it would make a difference and it did almost immediately. The pain began to come and go as if there were an on/off switch in my nervous system. However, as a Feldenkrais® practitioner I realized that the brain played a big part in this scenario and that if we could get my brain to change its mind through a combination of ART and Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® then we could probably decrease the time of recovery. In fact this is just what happened.

Next week: To Move or Not to Move—what to do when it’s time to start moving the arm.

If you have any questions or comments visit me, at feldylady on Twitter or on my Facebook page under Sandra Bradshaw, Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner.


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