Keeping the Shoulder Healthy!

With the hockey season now getting into full swing the Vernon Vipers are continuing their in-season training with Catt Conditioning. 4 days per week you will find the team training in the facility. For the hockey athlete it’s important to maintain the strength they have gained in the off-season while continuing to improve tissue quality, mobility and stability and help reduce the aches and pains that come with such a high intensity sport. Shoulder injuries are one of the main injuries that arise. Some being contact injuries through hits in a game and others because of the high repetitive demands of the game and life.

Hockey is an amazing sport! Who can argue with the speed, intensity, power and even grace of being able to perform on skates and ice! How can you deny that it’s the best sport in the world! (at least in my books!) It’s important to keep the athlete healthy and injury free.

The shoulder is a very interesting topic. So much dysfunction from the shoulder can come from everywhere surrounding it. The guilty parties are busy creating havoc on the shoulder, never getting any attention while the shoulder gets all the blame. For everyone who suffers with some type of shoulder dysfunction but has never been involved in a contact injury, maybe it’s time to search elsewhere!
Yes, look AWAY from the shoulder!

Our first order of business is looking at the Thoracic Spine and the neck. If there is a Neurological problem in the neck this can refer to the shoulder. Improper breathing patterns can lead to shoulder weakness and dysfunction. Lack of Thoracic spine mobility can lead to shoulder dysfunction. Do you see how so many things play a role in the health of our shoulder!

With a restriction in your breathing pattern such as reduced diaphragm breathing and dominate shoulder/chest breathing the muscles that should help you move, lift and load during sport or exercise are fatigued. You tire quickly without achieving your goals in your fitness program such as pressing or pulling patterns. Another fact is with proper breathing this increases expansion/mobility through the Tspine. In order for our Thoracic spine to move freely it needs us to breath correctly or in the end we become restricted and shoulder range is lost.
Trigger points in the upper traps, lats and other areas continue this restriction and stretching may only increase this restriction because the muscle is trying to protect itself. Massage therapy and Self Myofascial release is the best way to reduce trigger points and increase range.
Once mobility is gained and thoracic stability is then included then we can move forward to more of a loading phase but if you skip any of the important steps above you will fight through the remainder of a conditioning program without making the gains you strive for!

What steps should you take first in achieving a healthy shoulder? Start with these 3 simple steps first.
1. Look for a qualified professional who can perform an FMS (Functional movement screen) and explain your results.
2. Reduce trigger points in the upper trap, lats, and additional areas in shoulder, upper back. Trigger point work with a tool you can tolerate such as a Trigger point ball, tennis ball or a partner can use a massage stick or dowel rod.
3. Perform mobility such as rib grab, push/pull rotation patterns.

There are several additional steps but getting going on the right path is never a bad thing.

viper rolling

Sidelying push/pull for Thoracic mobility
Lay on your Right side with your legs pulled up to hip height and stacked together. You can place a rolled up towel or Yoga block between your knees. Rotate away from your legs (to your left) and reach both arms up to the ceiling. Exhale your air out as you pull your left arm down and push your right arm up. Elbows should be straight. Squeeze the knees together to incorporate added stability. This will help improve the mobility needed at the Tspine (upper back). Maintain straight arms and have the movement come from the upper back only. Repeat 3 times then change to the opposite side. If one side is worse, spend quality time on the restricted side until you find a balance between both.

viper tspine pushpull

Remember…they are just kids!

Remember…they are just kids!
Before I had kids, it was always a goal of mine to keep them busy in several sports! I wanted them to lead a healthy, active lifestyle and have them appreciate Sport as much as I do. The benefits are endless even though many in this world would disagree, keeping a child healthy and active is one of the main reasons for physical and mental rewards on all levels and can transfer to adult years.

Prior to organized sport I never realized the dark side of what can come. The politics involved in each sport and the views and beliefs that get tested along the way. I find myself at many times saying “they are just kids” but I need to pull myself back and make myself BELIEVE this mantra more then I ever thought I would! It’s a true test of Character for many.

As adults we seem to forget the learning curve we had as kids when we learned a new sport. Or, taking up a new sport as an adult and experiencing the laughter and enjoyment of the many times you screwed up! Why is this lost on our children when a 10 year old decides to join a team years after his friends have already been playing? Remember, they are just kids! Their enjoyment is lost through the adult negativity and resentment of a child who isn’t up to par of the others. They are learning….Remember…They are just kids!

As a parent, I want my child to succeed! What parent doesn’t? I want him to be successful at school, in sports, making friends and being respectful to others. I want my child to have the confidence to score goals, kick a soccer ball and challenge their opponent without feeling like they will fail! We can be harsh on ourselves as adults but to be harsh on a child for failing while trying to learn!…Remember… they are just kids!

The Adult dream of success is driven deeper into children but to what expense? Remember…they are just kids!
A change of address in order for your child to pursue your dream! Remember… they are just kids!
A coach’s player choice in order to win! Remember…they are just kids!
A yearlong single sport instead of developing a well-rounded multi sport athlete! Is the dream of Sport really their dream? Is the fuel behind the desire coming from you or your child? I, for one, will admit my competitiveness drives me in each sport I play. I hate to let my team down if I make a mistake. Is this the same feeling a child experiences if they missed that shot? Is this the same disappointment they feel from their parents or coach if they fail? Aren’t we supposed to support and encourage our children to be healthy and happy? Is this not our #1 goal as parents?

Remember…. They are just kids!

I give you a challenge. I challenge you to look for your Childs smile while they play. I Challenge you to remember YOUR laughs while watching. I challenge you to ask if they had fun. I challenge you…to challenge yourself and find the child IN YOU!
And, to Remember… they are just kids!