A common question we get as Physios is: what is the most common injury we see?

I can’t speak for all clinics, but at Healthzone Physiotherapy, we see a lot of shoulder pain. Shoulder pain can affect up to 65% of the population at some stage in their life time. It is common because it is a vulnerable and fairly shallow ball and socket joint that enables us all sorts of fantastic movement. The price we pay for that movement is lack of stability, which makes us susceptible to injury, particularly with repetitive movements and when we allow the biomechanics to become poor.

Shoulder pain can affect any age group. Our younger patients tend to develop shoulder pain through sports like swimming, rugby and water polo. Our older patients tend to injure their shoulders through heavy lifting and falls. Some sports and hobbies are common for sustaining shoulder injuries and pain, like rugby, surfing, surf life saving, swimming, tennis and golf. Repetitive movements like house and yard work are a great way to injure the shoulder as well. And since we are coming into a time of year where some of these sports and activities are getting more common, it may be helpful to know some ways in which you can help prevent these injuries from developing.

  1. Strengthen your deep shoulder and shoulder blade muscles!

These are not the muscles that make you look good, gym bunnies! Never mind your pecs, delts and biceps for a moment, we are talking about the rotator cuff and muscles that control your shoulder blade.

  1. Improve your posture!

Do you ever see someone hunched over and start feeling sore for them? The spaces in your shoulder joint and your ability to recruit your muscles around your shoulder are directly related to your posture. Learning to stand tall and set your shoulder blades in a better position before you start your exercise or activity will reduce your risk of developing shoulder pain.

  1. Take breaks!

Imagine someone with a sedentary job deciding to paint their home and doing that for about 12 hours over the weekend. We don’t have to imagine it, we see it quite a lot! They tend to come in on Monday with some pretty intense shoulder pain! Try switching arms and pace yourself by giving yourself regular breaks. Your muscles aren’t used to that sort of movement and when they tire, they need to rest, or you may develop pain or sustain an injury.

  1. Try to keep it below shoulder height!

Do not get me wrong, we need to use our shoulders above shoulder height and we need to do it frequently to maintain our strength and range of motion. However, if you have decided to trim the hedge this spring and that’s going to take a few solid hours of work, try setting yourself up in a position which is going to enable you to keep your arms at or below shoulder height or you may as well book your Physio appointment in advance!

  1. Book in to see your Physio!

If you are concerned about developing shoulder pain, you have had an injury or operation before that wasn’t well rehabbed or are already getting niggles, come in and see a Physio. We can do a full assessment of your shoulder, screening not only for injuries but for weakness, tightness, muscle imbalance and other issues that need to be addressed. Prevention is much easier than treatment!

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Rebecca graduated from AUT in 2008 with her Bachelor of Health Science in Physiotherapy and started working in a West Auckland private practice. She quickly gained an interest in sports physiotherapy including injury prevention and management. Rebecca worked for four years with premier and reserve club rugby teams including Waitemata and Kumeu / Helensville. She was the physio for the Western Pioneers team in 2012 when they won the North Harbour competition. Rebecca also practiced as a community physiotherapist administering the Otago Exercise Programme which focused on falls prevention for the independent elderly. Through these clients, she developed a curiosity in chronic pain conditions. While she has had plenty of experience in standard post surgical rehabilitation, she took a particular interest in Functional Reactivation Programmes, which work with people suffering persistent pain and complex recoveries post surgery or injury. Rebecca takes an interest in working with clients who have exhausted their channels within the health profession for the management of their pain and enjoys the challenge of helping these patients manage their conditions and return to activities of daily living. To aid in this work, she went on to get her Postgraduate Certificate in Rehabilitation from AUT. Rebecca’s passions include travel, yoga, food, comedy and film – don’t get her started on the topic of movies if you don’t have the time and energy to discuss them with her. She lives in central Auckland and is fiercely local – preferring to commute every day across the bridge than to live any distance away from friends and family!