[Podcast] Shoulder injuries

Profile picture of Adam Byrne
Senior MSK Physiotherapist, Bupa UK
02 July 2021
Next review due July 2024

In this episode of the Joint Approach podcast, our focus is on shoulder injuries. Shoulder injuries can happen in various situations, from playing sports to working a desk-based job.

My guest for the episode is Mike Primett, an MSK Therapies Team Lead at Bupa. Mike has worked in professional sports and within Bupa treating shoulder injuries. You can listen to the full episode below or read on for a selection of key points from the conversation.

When do shoulder injuries happen?

Shoulder injuries are often the result of everyday life. They might happen when someone takes up a new activity. That could be a new sport, lifting weights at the gym, or even painting or gardening. It can be any spike in activity that your shoulder isn’t used to.

Shoulder injuries are also often related to desk working. This has been particularly noticeable in the last year, as more people have worked from home. Your desk set-up may not allow you to have good posture or to sit straight. Back and neck stretches can really help.

We often see people whose shoulders have become painful over time. They may have pain around the front and outside half of their shoulder. Quite often, they will struggle to move their shoulder fully. The pain will often depend on what they're doing, rather than it being there constantly.

Common shoulder injuries

The shoulder joint is complex. Many other joints in the body have a single line of movement: the shoulder can move anywhere. The four muscles, which as a group are called the rotator cuff, help to hold your shoulder in position. Two common injuries we see are overload of the rotator cuff and shoulder impingement.

Rotator cuff overload

The rotator cuff muscles are small, but they work for long periods of time. They can do this because they have a strong tendon (tissue that connect muscles with bones). They like a little bit of work, very regularly.

But it can cause problems when someone takes up a new activity that is far more than that rotator cuff is used to. The rotator cuff muscles can show signs of inflammation or weakening in response. Sometimes this happens before a noticeable injury occurs.

Shoulder impingement

Shoulder impingement is where tendon rubs against bone. That doesn’t mean something is getting abruptly squashed. It just means the shoulder muscles are having pressure put on them for a long period of time. It happens when people have poor posture at their desk, for example.

Shoulder bursitis

Bursa are fluid-filled sacks that are present at all your joints. They act like a cushion between muscles and bones, allowing them to slide and glide past one another. But with force or compression, bursa can become irritated or inflamed (bursitis). Bursars are designed to be squashed, but not for a long period of time.

Preventing and managing shoulder injuries

If you persistently have an ache or pain in your shoulder, you may need to ease off certain activities. Check your movement and see if you feel tension at a particular point. A physiotherapist can help and recommend exercises.

Gentle rotator cuff exercises can be helpful in strengthening your rotator cuff muscles. The stronger your rotator cuff muscles are, the lower the chance of shoulder injuries.

There are many more points that we cover in the full conversation. So, do have a listen above, and please subscribe through your podcast app to keep up to date with future episodes. You can currently find this podcast on Spotify, and it will be coming to Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts soon.

Profile picture of Adam Byrne
Adam Byrne (he/him)
Senior MSK Physiotherapist, Bupa UK

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