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Triathlon’s shoulder

29 February 2020
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Triathlon’s shoulder (also known as swimmer’s shoulder) is a term that is used a lot, and not only in the world of athletes. But what does it really mean? What is involved in creating the pain and what can be done to help alleviate it?

What is triathlon’s shoulder?

The medical terminology for triathlon’s shoulder is “impingement syndrome” which is a fancy term to say that there is a narrowing in the space between the acromion (the most top bony part of the shoulder) and the humeral head (connecting the arm to the shoulder). This narrowing causes a “pinch” in the tendons going through that space: usually the rotator cuff (supraspinatus and subscapularis in the picture below) and/ or the biceps.

What causes it?

It occurs more often in athletes and labourers that perform repetitive motions which can in the long term cause this sort of overuse injury. The typical sports include but are not limited to triathlon, swimming, baseball, volleyball, and racket sports. Jobs involving repeated overhead activities such as painters, carpenters, and electricians are also more at risk.

Some of the most common causes are: 

  • Poor scapula posture 
  • Forward shoulder posture
  • Overtraining
  • Poor mechanical technique
  • Overactive/ underactive muscle compensation patterns

What can be done about it?

The recommended hand on approach involves the patient, the chiropractor and the coach (if sport-related injury) to combine their efforts together using: 

  • Manual chiropractic adjustments
  • ART: Active Release Techniques muscle work
  • Dry needling
  • Laser IV therapy
  • Technique evaluation and correction 
  • Proper rehabilitation exercises 

Finding the cause of what initiated the pain is very important in order to avoid reproducing the same injury in the future. This does not mean stopping the activity involved with that movement but rather finding a new pattern that will allow to achieve the same goal without putting yourself at risk for injuries. This process works best with everyone working together as a team to get you out of pain and back into doing whatever activity or work you want or need to do.

The following video shows what a normal shoulder full range of motion should look like. Please only perform this exercise to your own tolerance. This is not a treatment.  

If you have been experiencing shoulder pain and would like a consultation, contact the clinic on 057 8678904.



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