Friday, August 5, 2011

Building a Better Ian - The Next Phase, Shoulders

Since I was a teen my left shoulder has hurt. Not all the time, but usually it hurts. Mild most days, darn right sore other days and sometimes I can't turn my head. It runs the gambit of achy, numb, tingly, and even itchy. But I just deal with it and move on.

Well after all the success I have and seeing my Chiropractor and having ART done to fix my ITBS issues  I thought, why the heck am I not asking about this. Perhaps it is time to get rid of this pain. Truth be told I finally came to this realization this past weekend while doing a solo ride around the Peggys Cove loop. 85kms or so and by 50kms in my shoulder was numb. Sure I changed positions, shuffled a bit, did a little stretch and things went back to being okay,  but I knew that I just had to stop "dealing" with the issue and get it looked at.

When I was a teen I saw my doctor. He said, pinched nerve and gave me some exercises to do. They didn't do much, I was a teen, and I gave up. Easy. But I am older now and darn it, I don't want to be even older and in more pain.

Well into the Chiropractor I went. We chatted about the history of the injury. This was obviously a chronic thing, so it wasn't going to be solved over night. But after a little assessment we came up with the beginnings of a plan of attack.

It turns out I have very little range of motion in my shoulders themselves. Instead my pecs have been controlling things for a long time. I basically brute force my shoulders to do what I want them to. Great, I have strong pecs, hooray! I also have very low shoulders, which is odd for many people, but maybe not so much for cyclists.

See as cyclists, we lean forward a lot. And we stretch out our arms to do so. So our trapezius can elongate. This, in my case, also lead to my scalpular muscles rotating. It all seems to just add together into one big problem.

Where did this all begin? I don't know, but of course things like cycling and swimming can make things worse. So it has been slowly getting worse over time.

Right now we are working on a huge bundle of scar tissue and muscle adhesion that has formed over time in my teres muscles (I think it is those muscles). They are kind of under and beside the scalpula, in and around the armpit area. And I am working on stretching out my pecs to get my arms and shoulders to go backwards a bit. One session and I regained quite a few degrees of motion. Hopefully a few more sessions and some exercises at home will lead to me becoming pain free and will help in my active lifestyle.

In swimming, for instance, I have the choice of swimming with stubby arms and swimming slow, or using my major muscles to force my arms into a nice elongated form. The second option means I tend to throw the rest of my body out of position which leads to dropped hips and tons of drag. This can be easily seen when I wear a wetsuit for open water. Doing so can gain me almost 4 minutes over a 750m swim, as my hips are forced to float high. We will see if freeing my shoulders will lead to an decrease in my sprint distance swim time.

Any way, that seems like enough info for now. Any of you medical-ish type people reading this should be aware that my knowledge of the human muscular structure and use of proper names for different muscles groups is completely due to the internet. I am sure I got a lot of that stuff wrong. Sorry about that.

I'll update my "condition" as my treatment continues and we will journey together to see how this may affect my life as a Triathlete / Duathlete.
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