Fishing on the lake at sunrise.

Is Your Shoulder Ready For Summer’s (Social Distance) Activities?

By Michelle Linz, Occupational Therapy

Spring is a time when golfing and fishing are a few activities that people can get out and enjoy again, but they may cause irritation or pain in the shoulder joint. Did you know that Occupational Therapists (OTs) work with a variety of issues and diagnoses involving the shoulder joint?

The shoulder is a complex joint with the rotator cuff being involved most often when an injury occurs to the shoulder. Underneath the large muscles of the shoulder such as the deltoid, pectoralis, and upper trap muscles, is the rotator cuff (RC). These four muscles attach to the large bone in your upper arm, the humerus, and are responsible for stabilizing and helping with the smaller movements of the shoulder.

man swinging golf club

Occupational therapy assesses a variety of different factors including range of motion (ROM), flexibility, strength, pain, posture, and stability of the shoulder to determine the best progression of exercises and treatments to promote optimal healing. Range of motion (ROM) of the shoulder is often affected which in turn can lead to pain, poor mechanics of the shoulder, and a higher risk of injury to the RC and shoulder joint.

Your golf game may still cause you pain, your shoulder shouldn’t. Occupational therapists will assess and help improve mechanics and movement patterns to promote optimal positioning of the shoulder joint, which can decrease pain and further damage to the RC. Involving OT early on following an injury to the shoulder, versus only pursing injections or pain medication, can help manage pain and symptoms by starting with safe exercises that will promote proper movement. The goal of the exercise program is to teach the correct mechanics and properly strengthen the RC and shoulder blade muscles with the intent of decreasing shoulder pain.

There are also several non-invasive modalities and manual therapy techniques that may be utilized to supplement the exercise program in an effort to help lessen the pain and improve range of motion. As pain and range of motion improve, the occupational therapist will progress the exercises to utilize and strengthen the proper muscles that complete each motion of the shoulder.

Therapy Services at Glacial Ridge Health System is open to all patients during this time and extra safety precautions are in place. All CDC and MN Department of Health guidelines are being followed. Complete assessments are available in person or through telehealth services.