If you are a New York Mets fan, it’s likely that you have heard of Craig Swan, a famous pitcher in the 70’s and early 80’s. A rotator cuff injury took Swan out of the game for 9 months during 1981. He was able to return to the Mets after receiving a Rolfing series. In 1982 he received the comeback player of the year award.
Rotator cuff injuries can be debilitating. Pain, weakness, restricted motion and instability are the most common symptoms of this problem. Certain arm movements become difficult or impossible, such as reaching behind or over one’s head. These problems become exaggerated when weight is added, or resistance is applied. Additionally, pain increases progressively as the injured shoulder is used, and is often felt more intensely during the night.
The rotator cuff muscles primarily stabilize the shoulder joint and also contribute to shoulder movement. The cuff is comprised of the tendons of 4 muscles: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis. Injuries to the rotator cuff include tendinitis, bursitis and tears.
Poor alignment of the shoulder, head and neck are the primary risk factors that compromise the biomechanics of the shoulder, and also predispose one to a rotator cuff injury. Most rotator cuff injuries are the result of wear and tear brought on by repetitive motion and compromised movement patterns that people develop with age, injuries, tension and a variety of other stressors. If a person has poor posture such as carrying one’s head or shoulders forward of their body, then shoulder movement will be compromised. If the pectoral muscles are tight then shoulder movement will also be compromised due to tight chest muscles. The body develops movement patterns that get the job done, however with repetitive movement faulty biomechanics will eventually lead to injury.
Rolfing can play a critical role in the prevention of, and recovery from a rotator cuff injury. Rolfing lengthens and repositions muscles to restore the alignment of the structure that is needed for balanced motion within the shoulder joint. Healing of the injured tissues will be facilitated as compression and stress in the structure is released. Muscle groups regain synchronicity in movement. Future episodes will be avoided as the shoulder takes on a new and healthy movement pattern. Rolfing restores healthy posture, and in doing so restores healthy movement patterns.
Advanced age and smoking also compromise the integrity of the tendons throughout the body and predispose them to tears. Tears tend to begin as partial thickness and if left untreated, can progress to full thickness tears. Partial thickness tears can heal with progressive strengthening, stretching and Rolfing. Once tears have reached full thickness they tend to require surgical repair.
Craig Swan later went on to pursue a second career as a Rolfer. His experience receiving Rolfing to treat his rotator cuff injury was life changing in more ways than one.
Rebekah and David Frome have been working in the healing arts for over three decades. They have helped thousands of people recover from trauma and leave pain behind. They practice in Montclair and Asbury Park, NJ. To learn more about Tai Chi classes or to schedule a Rolfing or Five Element Acupuncture appointment call 973.509 .8464 or visit www.FromePT.com. You can also find us at www.FaceBook/FromePhysicalTherapy.
This article appears in the June Issue of Natural Awakenings Jersey Shore.