Too Many Shoulder Muscles!

Iiiit’s Exercise Time!

I’ve had three working physical therapy sessions at this point, and my exercises have evolved a bit from the original posture-related set. We’re aiming for endurance and some strength improvements in the muscles surrounding the shoulder, so I’m doing what is (to me) a mind-numbing number of reps: one set of 20 (last week) or three sets of 10 (this week).

I’m accustomed to using heavy enough weights that I do, like, 10. One set.

Look at all these shoulder motions (“articulations”) and muscles. I’m not using all of the motions in my work yet–adduction work is still out, as are transverse flexion, abduction, and adduction–but I’m hitting a whole lot.

Anyway, here are the plethora of fiddly shoulder exercises, as well as some general opinions on each. All but the lying shoulder external rotation and the raises are done with bands. Those three use 2-3 lb weights.

Lying Shoulder External Rotation

This looks easy, but it’s one of those things like a tricep pushdown where that gravity starts to kick in (on the “up” in the case of the pushdown) and you have to hold the upper arm frozen, and by the time you get to about rep 17, all that mess is shaking and quivering. I’m not rotating to 90 degrees vertical on the upswing like the woman in the picture is there; 75 degrees, maybe.

Standing Shoulder Internal Rotation

This is the same as the previous and next one, except standing and pulling into the stomach instead of pushing out (hence the “internal” rotation). I like putting this one between the external rotations to give my shoulder a bit of a break.

Standing Shoulder External Rotation

I was like, “Um, so, the same thing twice?” and they were like, “Yeah.” Eep. This one has the added benefit of using a band, allowing for some guidance on the motion. I like to do it after the lying version since I have the “help” with the form on this one. I have to work harder to keep the upper arm stable, though.

I’m not a huge fan of this one. It’s hard to get a smooth range of motion without twisting my torso, especially once fatigue sets in. And by this time, I’m losing count regularly.

Straight-Armed Shoulder Extension

Using a band on this one is kinda lousy–the weight needs to be quite light, which means that I’m close enough to the base of the band that I don’t get resistance for the full range of motion. It’s a weird feeling.

Rear Delt Rows

Kinda standard fare here, although my elbows are down my by side. This is one where I have to keep reiterating, “endurance, endurance, endurance,” because the band just can’t provide proper resistance for me to be very tired at the end of 3 sets of 10. This is for the posture improvement, too, though.

Front Raises and Lateral Raises

Dumbbell time! I only do these to shoulder height instead of trying to swing through the roof like the guy in the first picture there. I really like these and always have. There’s something wonderfully odd about having sore armpits the day after a workout. I often have that, “How in the hell did my armpit get sore…?” reaction the next morning.

So How’s It Working?

Quite nicely in some respects. My posture is much better, and my shoulder is so much stronger. I went from barely able to do one set of 20 early last week (and not including either of the raises) to being able to do 2 sets of twenty of each of these with a nice bit of resistance on the bands.

Turns out I wasn’t supposed to do 2 sets of 20, but the sheet said 1-2 sets… Oops.

I don’t have that creepy loosey-goosey feeling in my shoulder anymore, where I lay down and feel the shoulder rock back in its socket (meaning I don’t need a pillow under the shoulder at night). I still need seats with arm rests, but I feel more stable vertically in the shoulder, too.

All of that said, as I was leaving this morning my PT said, “We’re doing to try something new on Thursday.”

Which scares the hell out of me, because she’s… tough. Last Thursday, she decided to test my range of motion, but wasn’t so kind as to back off when it hurt, like the first PT did. When I tensed up and resisted a bit, she said, “Oh, are we fighting? You fighting?”

No, no, no. My bad.

What was she doing to my arm? An test similar to one described here, paraphrased:

Lying down, hold your arm out to the side, bend your elbow towards your waist (making an open triangle), and turn your wrist so your thumb points toward your shoulder. Your devilish doctor will hold your elbow in place and feel in your shoulder joint while she pushes your hand very gently straight down. Breathe deeply and try not to cry.

In the case WebMD describes, they’d ask you to push back.

The reason for a switch in tactics may be my strength improvements, but is more likely the fact that the shoulder itself isn’t feeling much better consistently. It’s staying swollen and hot, still hurts like the dickens (6-8 out of 10) almost every day by noon, and is still very tender to the touch. Tylenol doesn’t help much. Ice helps some, but not for long.

I have a nerve-related check-in tomorrow morning and PT again on Thursday. Three appointments this week in all.

Bee’s bum.