Actually, there is no such thing as “Pickle Ball Shoulder”- it’s what you’ve been doing to your shoulders (and knees and hips for that matter) for the past 40 years that has forced you to transition to the pickle ball court. Necessity is still the mother of invention and pickle ball is a great example thereof for the many racket players whose shoulders have forced them to find a new game.
Shoulder Functionality Over Time
So what’s been happening over time with respect to how your shoulder girdle has been functioning? The story is basically the same for everybody. Progressive wear and tear with work and play mixed in with episodes of significant trauma over a lifetime create a scenario where both strength and the extremes of viable 3-dimensional mobility slowly decline. A poignant example is slipping on the ice and grabbing onto a railing for support. The outcome is much different at age 25 as compared to age 65.
Recurring Traumatic Events
With recurring traumatic events to the shoulder girdle, muscles and tendons are compressed and strained. Tissues change over time, leading to scarring, tearing, and diminished functional output. At this point, loads applied to the shoulder can no longer be safely dispersed away from cartilage and bone that forms the ball and socket. A lack of dynamic muscular control allows for shearing (sliding) as opposed to rolling of ball on socket, again allowing bony and cartilaginous structures to impact.
As one moves into their 5th and 6th decades, these impaired mechanical patterns serve as the beginnings of degenerative change. By way of an analogy, think of your shoulder as a car. When you consistently drive your car with loose lug nuts, sooner or later the parts will wear out. In the case of the human shoulder, this commonly equates to degenerative arthritis about the ball and socket as well as tearing about the rotator cuff.
Shoulder Exercise Program
We have developed a basic shoulder exercise program that is applicable for most adults who are functioning in “normal” fashion yet desire to further enhance their capabilities. See these exercises by clicking here.
As with any exercise program, there are some basic rules to follow reflecting the concepts noted above:
- Focus on flexibility into outlying multiplanar regions first. You can do these patterns daily.
- Following right behind it with strengthening patterns thru these same three dimensional spaces. Strengthening exercises should create mild fatigue that resolves within an hour or so.
- High reps and low loads: i.e. be able to do 1 set of 15-20 reps at a particular weight to build the underlying endurance necessary. You need only do these 3-4x/week.
- Remember to address muscles of the legs, pelvis and torso: i.e. squats, heel raises and bridging are some examples. These muscles help disperse loads away from the shoulder, further minimizing patterns of overuse.
- If there is pain, stop and have a professional assess your shoulder.
Diligence, patience and persistence are the tenants of success. You are now at a point in your life where you have the time and resources to enhance the quality of all that you do. Make this same effort with respect to your shoulder, and all of your body for that matter, to allow for maximal enjoyment and success on the court.
Now, if one could only figure out how to stay out of the kitchen.