Apparently, I have no patience, as you will see when you read my shoulder injury report. As I mentioned last week, when Alan and I were finishing up our first day working the Malibu Half Marathon I tripped in the dark and either landed on or jammed my shoulder in my fall. I’m inclined to think jammed as I tried to stop my fall since the wicker bench I tripped over probably wouldn’t have been hard enough to cause my injury.
Shoulder Injury Report
How it Happened
So if you missed the first post I won’t make you go back to read what happened (unless you want to read my full Working the Malibu Half Marathon story). Alan and I had been working at the Malibu Half Marathon Expo all day, Alan on the mic as the announcer, me in the Official Merchandise Store. We were getting ready to leave, a little after 7:00, waiting for a quick meeting with the race director about the next day. It was very dark, and when the race director called me to help her move a table I tripped over a low, wicker bench that I didn’t see at all.
After freaking everyone out (including myself), I felt I was okay though my right shoulder was a little sore. As the klutz you know I am, I was just happy I didn’t land on my knee! I really didn’t stop to consider it because it was late, we were exhausted and hungry after a long day working. We drove back to our hotel in Agoura Hills, then went to dinner and home to bed.
Shoulder Injury Report: The Next Day
We had to get up really early the next morning because my first job of the day was to work parking from 3:45 until the volunteers arrived at 5:30. Thank goodness that the time change gave us an extra hour because I slept poorly. My shoulder started aching and I couldn’t seem to get comfortable (even though we were sleeping in the amazing Sheraton beds!).
When I woke up I realized that I couldn’t reach my arm up above shoulder level without pain. Uh oh! With still no time to ice, I took a couple Tylenol, a warm shower to loosen it up a bit, and we headed back to Malibu. Fortunately, my shoulder did not hurt if I kept it still or in that small range of motion. Small blessings, I guess.
Shoulder Injury Report: What I Tried
I did manage to get my jobs done, first the parking, then working at the store. I’m left-handed, but I do quite a bit with my right arm, but I got it done. Now we get to the impatient part. I wanted my shoulder to feel better “right now!” And since we were at an event with a variety of vendors I decided to explore my options. As soon as the races started we had a little downtime in the store so I set off.
1. The Saje Booth
The Treatment: Saje is one of the sponsors of the Malibu Half Marathon and they had a great booth set up with diffusers, essential oils, and foam rollers for the runners to use. They made some beautiful gift bags for the finishers too. Saje was my first stop. I told them what had happened and they used a combination of their Pain Release and Peppermint Halo essential oil blends to help relieve my pain.
The Result: Moderate. The Peppermint Halo felt really good on my skin, first cooling then tingling. The Pain Release blend is a topical analgesic and did provide some temporary relief.
2. Chiropractor #1: The Run Doctor
The Treatment: I first met Dr. Paul Copesky, also known as the Run Doc, several years ago when I was still working at the Springs Club. Dr. Paul is a chiropractor who specializes in runners and other athletes, and he is a runner himself. He helped me with some back pain a while back and he just happened to be running the 5k. Apparently, I have no shame because when I saw him after his race I immediately asked him about my shoulder.
Dr. Paul did a quick examination, testing my range of motion and movement. He felt it was probably my biceps tendon, where it attaches to the shoulder, because of where I indicated I felt pain. Dr. Paul did a few active release techniques on my shoulder and told me I needed to ice and rest.
The Result: Good. After Dr. Paul worked on my shoulder it felt much better. Still inflamed of course, but some of the achiness dissipated and I had better movement.
3. Physical Therapist
The Treatment: One of the perks for the charity runners at the Malibu Half Marathon was access to the Charity Lounge after the race. There they had shade, tables, clean bathrooms, and best of all, massage therapists. The massage therapists came from a physical therapy organization (sadly I did not get their name). The lounge was right across from the store and my co-workers encouraged me to talk to one of the physical therapists. So I did.
The PT also did a few movement tests and basically concurred with Dr. Paul that the problem was probably in my biceps tendon. He figured there was some swelling (not visible from the outside, but probable), which caused a little impingement. While I had no shooting pain, my shoulder felt like it was right on the verge. He suggested rest, ice (<–see a theme here?), then some strengthening exercises for my rotator cuff.
The Result: Neutral. The therapist did not do any type of treatment, but instead gave me an action plan.
4. Chiropractor #2
The Treatment: Dr. K, the chiropractor who created the Intelliroll, was also at the expo. I had already re-introduced myself because I was in his very first certification class at the IDEA World Fitness Convention last July. So when I went back to his booth on race day, I wanted some tips about how (and if) foam rolling would benefit my shoulder injury.
He showed me some techniques using the Intelliroll to help improve my posture by rolling my pec minor, serratus anterior, and thoracic spine that he assured me would help with shoulder health.
The Result: Neutral, but with great promise for future shoulder health. I love my Intelliroll, which is a great tool and is designed to align your spine, increase blood flow, and is intelligently shaped to promote healthy joints and muscles.
At this point the event was over. I felt armed for success, but my shoulder still hurt. Finally, after the three-hour drive home (plus a stop for lunch), I actually got some ice on my shoulder.
#5. Fascial Stretch Therapy
The Treatment: One of the perks of being a fascial stretch therapist is knowing other therapists, including my boss, who is a level three specialist and one of the most intuitive stretch therapists that I know. On Monday morning, when I told her of my weekend adventures, she made some time for me and did a little work on my shoulder.
She was very gentle. In fact, in spite of my inability to move my arm above shoulder level (especially lateral movement), I had no pain at all when she was working on me. She used the FST techniques of oscillation, circumduction, traction, and by listening to the tissue gently increased the blood flow and greatly reduced the pain.
The Result: Positive. After she finished I had more range of motion and less pain that I’d had since I fell. She will work on it a little more after giving my shoulder some time for the swelling and impingement to lessen.
#6. Massage Therapy
The Treatment: While I had no intention of seeing a massage therapist for my shoulder injury, last Tuesday I worked a golf event with a massage therapist to celebrate opening day at the club where I work. Laura is very intuitive and she is my go-to therapist for many injury-type massage needs. When we were finishing up our time on the golf course, she offered to treat me to a chair massage. That is not something I ever turn down, but I told her about my shoulder and she told me that she could help it. What the heck.
The Result: Neutral. While I think that Laura did some temporary good, I also think she may have done too much. I felt like my shoulder regressed a bit for the rest of the day, though by Wednesday I was back on track.
Shoulder Injury Report: Where I Am Now
A little over a week has passed since my shoulder injury, so where am I now?
My shoulder (or bicep) is, well, better. My range of motion has improved, especially with forward or backward movement. Lateral movement is still a challenge, though, and if I overuse it (like I probably did today by using the vacuum cleaner) my arm aches. It aches at night too, making it difficult to get comfortable and occasionally waking me up at night. While some movements (like reaching to adjust my air conditioning or music volume in my care) are difficult, I’ve adapted to some movement patterns that don’t cause pain.
As I write this I can lift my arm laterally with just a little pain. If I add rotation though, like turning my palm forward or toward the ceiling, it just plain hurts. The biceps tendon is associated with the rotator cuff pathology afterall.
Which brings me to my final “treatment”
In spite of all my
impatience hopes and wishes, the only real cure for my shoulder injury will be time, along with rest, ice, and anti-inflammatories. You can try to hurry healing along but while you can find some treatments that will help you feel better, time is the only thing that really allows true healing. I guess I’m happy I’m a runner instead of a tennis player. It’s a lot easier to rest my shoulder than it is to take time off running to rest my knee!
Do you have a go-to form of treatment that helps you feel better when you’re injured? Have you learned how to speed up time?
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