MUSCLES AREN'T EVERYTHING!
Put that dumbbell down and listen up: muscles aren't everything. Your joints make your whole body tick but like any mechanical system they are prone to wear and tear. Without well functioning joints, it is challenging to add muscle, shed fat or get anything done around the house. To maintain them, you need to understand how they work and the threats they face. Over the next six weeks, I will tell you how to keep your six major joints in tip top condition. This week, let's look at the shoulder. TYPE OF JOINT: Shoulders have an exceptional 360-degree range of motion but a shallow socket and relatively loose ligaments. What you gain in mobility you lose in stability. TOP THREAT: Labral tear. Damage to the shoulder labrum, a rim of fibrous cartilage that gives the shoulder sockets its cup-like shape. A labral tear makes it harder for the ball to stay seated in the socket, so dislocation often follows. CAUSE: Usually trauma - breaking a fall with an outstretched arm or dislocating a shoulder in an accident - but overuse from throwing or lifting can fray the labrum too. TREATMENT: Rehab can strengthen muscles and shore up supporting tendons to stabilise the shoulder. If it doesn't or there's a danger of dislocation, surgery is usually needed to trim frayed or loose labral tissue or reattach the labrum to the socket. DEFENCE: Do this simple exercise - stand to the right of a resistance band fastened as waist height. Holding the end in your right hand, lock your right elbow to your side and slowly rotate your arm outwards, pausing in the fully rotated position. Do 15 reps, then stand to the left of the band and rotate inwards against resistance. Repeat with your left arm. PROTECT YOUR SHOULDERS: Overdoing overhead motions like throwing a cricket ball, swinging a racquet or swimming can result in impingement of your rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons that cover the head of the upper-arm bone and hold the joint in place. The can cause the cuff to tear, especially as tendons age. To prevent it, do this while standing - lift a 0.5-2.0kg dumbbell to the side and about 30 degrees forward with arm straight and thumb pointed down, Do 15 reps each side. This strengthens muscles that support the tendons. WATCH OUT; A popular impingement surgery call subacromial decompression, which smooths bone spurs on the acromion, may not accomplish much and therefore be more hassle than it is worth. Avoid this invasive surgery and instead opt for painkillers, rehab and perhaps some steroids as these treatments may be more beneficial.