Stretches/exercise for sore shoulder


I was trying to catch a wave on Sunday and tweaked a muscle in my shoulder. I don’t know exactly what I did, there wasn’t a single moment of pain…it kept getting more sore for the next hour or so. Its been feeling marginally better each day since but Im wondering if there is anything I can do to speed its recovery and prevent something like this happening again. Its the vertical muscle underneath the edge of my shoulder blade near my spine. The one you feel when you push down with a straight arm, palm down. (not my lats, closer to the spine, more underneath the should blade bone) I think its the Rhombidous Major or possibly the Teres major. Check out this link for the picture.

Ive been stretching all season by holding my arm straight across my chest and a couple others but what do you guys recommend for paddling stretches? have a link with pics? I found the articles on here but there has to be more than the couple they show, right?

Feel free to chime in with any advice/experience dealing with/recovering from shoulder injuries/soreness too. what can I do besides wait?

Have you seen a doctor?
If not, go see an orthopedic specialist. Sounds like you may have pulled a scapular muscle. The doctor will diagnose it and send you to a physical therapist who will assign the proper exercise(s). Depending on what the injury is, you may need strengthening exercises rather than stretches.

Have you iced it?

Havent seen one

– Last Updated: Aug-22-12 5:26 PM EST –

Havent seen a doc yet. The pain wasnt too bad and is getting better but I have been meaning to see one regardless just to get some advice on shoulder health and maintenance since I intend to be paddling and racing for a long time to come.

Edit/addition: Iced it the first night: Felt a little better. Its in a hard spot to ice as its where my upper back and shoulder meet

I strongly recomend seeing a doc.

– Last Updated: Aug-22-12 9:25 PM EST –

I have injured my shoulders numerous times and it has become a life long struggle. The problem is that certain injuries become much more difficult to repair if you wait too long. I know you think it is not that big of a deal right now - but nevertheless - see a doc!!! Shoulder joints are complicated and not to be toyed with. You are probably fine, but still a trip to the doc is well worth the effort.

Catch 22. I knew I had rotator cuff
damage after suddenly slipping while pulling a rope to bring down a rotten old snag. The doc agreed. But he said he couldn’t order an MRI to precisely assess the nature of the damage until I had gone to a PT for treatment.

I’ve worked with many PTs and respect them. But how can a PT know whether therapeutic maneuvers are helpful, irrelevant, or damaging to rotator cuff injury? It’s bound to be partly guesswork. I guess the insurance company thought PT was cheaper than an MRI, though that may not be the case.

If you use ibuprofen or naproxen, use
sparingly and not for any longer than you must for pain relief. Study has clearly shown that their mechanism for relieving inflammation and pain will delay healing. Inflammation is an essential link in the process of injury healing. One very clear study compared healing in matched groups of men with rotator cuff injury, one treated with NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen) and the other with placebo. The placebo group healed faster. Pain can tell us something. Lay off a bit and let healing proceed.

I have had problems with the exact area. Medical practitioners I have seen have yet to put their finger on the exact problem, but I have not had an MRI. Physiotherapy I have taken has not really helped. As a practical paddling matter, it seems to help to not turn my head to look to the side when my pulling muscles are engaged. If you find the real cause of the problem, and/or effective treatment, I would appreciate hearing about it.


Asked the pros

– Last Updated: Aug-28-12 7:54 AM EST –

I went to rookies last night and asked the "old" guys about my shoulder. A few of them have had this exact same problem and they saved me a trip to the physical therapist. Ill share what they told me in case anyone else has the knife pain in their back.

I was told I injured my shoulder because I reached too far then put too much power down while I was over extended resulting in the smaller muscles around my scapula being strained. They said to prevent this I should limit my arm extension to 2-4" less than maximum (leave some bend in the elbow), then rotate my torso to get my paddle tip to make up the 2-4". They also said this will add power to my stroke as you're using bigger muscles and more core strength. So thats good to know.

Next, I was told to strengthen my shoulders I should get a rubber band and do some exercises. They recommended a small rubber band, like the 2-3" wide one as opposed to the bigger ones up to 6" wide. Then do a bunch of different pulls: up, back, rowing, thumbs out, thumbs in, lifts... all kinda hard to describe without a picture but if anyone is interested Ill try to describe them. all high rep, Low resistance.

Lastly one of the guys recommended shoulder rolls. I was told to hold my arms out at 30* to my sides, roll my thumbs back as far as is comfortable and roll my shoulders in a circle slowly 5 times forward, 5 times backwards.

All those things were given to the guys by physical therapists. Ive tried the shoulder rolls and they seem to be helping a little. Im going to get a rubber band tonight and Ill report back in a week with any results.


– Last Updated: Aug-28-12 8:12 AM EST –

There's a very fine line between therapy and aggravating the muscle group more. Paid therapists can get carried away with their jobs and just cause more trauma. I know many people who just stopped going to therapy and just let injuries heal quietly and did better with that. I knew one woman who had knee surgery and the therapy was killing her. After each session she was in more pain so she stopped and it healed fine by it self with some very gentle exercise.

Usually the deciding factor on wether to see a doc or not is if the pain is keeping you up at night. For me, the doc is the last resort. I pulled a shoulder in the gym doing pull downs with too much weight. It's now 3 weeks and it seems to be gone - doing nothing but avoiding doing stupid things with my shoulder.

Dont over do it
That was one thing everyone stressed: when using the rubber band you’re not trying to work out/gain strength. Get the smallest one available and do not over do it. Dave said he only used it 6 mins a day. Most agreed that little/light use was best

So you have a good point. Dont over do it (or do it at all)

I didn’t know that
I never heard that before. I researched it a bit and what I found wasn’t really convincing, but it made me want to hunt for more information. Important information, thanks.

It’s what you do with the arms and
shoulder when you’re paddling! …that prevents injury.

Have to use some of kayaking’s “paddler’s box” theory…using the flexibility of the spine and strength of the back muscles instead of isolating the shoulder.

Rest up and let the shoulder heal…


Paddling stretches
The main principle of stretching is to only stretch muscles that are warmed up. Stretching cold muscles is an invitation to injury and produces no positive effect. So, do not stretch before you paddle unless you have gone through an appropriate warm up routine. It is best no matter what to stretch at the end of the paddle. I am not saying that your injury was due to bad stretching practice but you did ask about stretching for paddling.

Do what you think is best - but
I have a good friend that hurt his shoulder playing old man’s ice hockey. He decided to listen to the old dogs on the bench and tried to deal with it without going to the doctor. Three months later he went to the doctor. Bad news. the muscle he tore had retracted over time to the point that there was almost nothing they could do. He had a surgical procedure to try to repair it. No luck. He is permanently impaired. His hockey days came to an end. Age 68 so it isn’t like he was going to be playing in the NHL. Still - he regrets his decision not to get medical attention at the outset.

Have you tried massage?
If you have torn something you’ll have to see a doctor but many times trigger point massage works very well. Using a tennis ball works well for the back or butt area. The older I get the more I use trigger point massage with great results. My hands were almost krippled until I discovered trigger point massage.

Wise words from Jay, especially for strength (band training) versus flexibility/range of motion exercises. Former can aggravate an inflamed shoulder whereas gentle ROM exercises can keep a shoulder from freezing up.

pre-game stretches
When i remember to I do these stretches holding the paddle:

1.Forward bend from the waist and let the arms dangle down as far as they can go without forcing. Come back up strecthing arms overhead.

2.Take paddle directly overhead and bend to the side as far as is comfortable without forcing.

3.Hold paddle straight in front and rotate to the side all the way.

For all three, hold strecthed position for a few breaths.

Those three sinmple stretches take 2 minutes and do a great job on the back, core, and shoulders.

Shoulder exercises