CrossFit has become incredibly popular in the last few years.  I’ve seen patients who’ve despised exercise, turn into avid gym addicts.  I think it’s great that people are getting more involved in exercise and fitness, and I love the group aspect of CrossFit.  Let’s face it, it’s easier to get motivated when you always have friends around pushing you to reach new fitness goals.  However, when partaking in physical activity there is always the chance of injury.  One of the most common areas at risk is the shoulder.

As a Sports Chiropractor in NYC, I have the opportunity to evaluate and treat many CrossFitters, from newbies to the ultra-competitive level.  Some common shoulders conditions I have seen are bicipital tendonitis, rotator-cuff syndromes, labral tears, frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis), separated shoulders, and impingement syndrome.

There are many factors that may be contribute to shoulder injuries.  The exercises themselves may not be the primary cause.  Poor form is definitely a factor, however previous injury at the shoulder may increase your risk as well.  With prior injury, there may be residual loss of shoulder mobility that you might not be aware of. Gradual loss of shoulder mobility is very common, not only because of old injuries, but also from everyday activities.

 Poor posture and improper ergonomics can lead to chronic overuse injuries.  Computer and smart phone use has the tendency to place us in poor positions throughout the day, leading to consistent micro-injuries at the shoulders.   In the absence of obvious injury, you may not realize that you may be gradually losing shoulder mobility; then one day you decide to get involved with a new exercise program like CrossFit, and you wind up with an injury.

Here is a simple test you can perform to see if you have lost mobility at your shoulders.

(Before you start any new exercise routine, it’s strongly encouraged that you get evaluated by a licensed medical professional, this test is not intended to replace the medical advice of a professional, nor does it clear you for exercise)

Apley’s Scratch Test:

Upper Test: With one arm, reach over your head, bend at the elbow and try to touch to the top of your opposite shoulder blade (perform on both sides).

Note if there is any difficulty with this movement.  Is it symmetrical when comparing both sides? Do you experience pain or stiffness?

Lower Test: Reach behind your back, bend at the elbow, and with your index finger try to touch the lower portion of your opposite shoulder blade.

Note the difficulty of this movement, and symmetry again.  Do you experience pain or stiffness?

If you find either of these tests difficult, or they elicited pain or stiffness, your likelihood of sustaining injury at your shoulder is greater.  Contact a local sports chiropractor, physical therapist or orthopedist and have your shoulder evaluated.  It’s better to be proactive and prehab a problem, than sustaining an injury and have to go through months of rehabilitative therapy.

If you have any questions, or you’d like to learn more about health-related topics, please visit http://www.parkavenuespine.com/programs/competitive-performance/.

Paul M. Salinas, D.C., C.C.S.P. is a New York City Doctor of Chiropractic.  He specializes in sports-related injuries, as is a full-body, master certified Active Release Techniques provider.


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