Friday, March 9, 2007

Rotator Cuff Injury Prevention

Kayaking can put the shoulder at risk to sprain and in some cases dislocation. Injury can occur when paddling force on the shoulder occurs outside the power position or when the hands cross the midline or extend beyond the shoulder line. As well muscle tears can occur if the kayaker periodically works the shoulder in a stressful position overhead, much like a baseball pitcher.
The picture above(photo by Ken Whiting)highlights the need to keep that rectangular space between the hands.

Individuals who are at risk to shoulder injury or have had early warning signs would be well advised to include a programme of exercises that target rotator cuff stabilizers. Kayakers should be aware that pain can lead to selective neural inhibition and resultant localized weakness. Some individuals may need a specific training program focused on neural control as opposed to generic strengthening. Included in this post are some suggestions for kayakers who have shoulder pain.
1. get feedback on your technique and shoulder positioning in the kayak
2. seek advice from a health care professional
3. keep in mind the mechanics of movements or biomechanics; many sports tasks including kayaking require shoulder abduction with end range lateral rotation. while stability is critical in this position (think also swimming and tennis swing) the lateral rotators can be quite weak in this end range position. It may be quite useful to train in the inner range first.
4. consider isolated activation of rotator cuff muscles first
5. learn to avoid unwanted activity of the deltoid muscle
6. utilize retraining techniques and mental imagery or visualization.
7. alter training method - start with isometrics,progress into lateral rotation at various angles of abduction.
8. If in the eccentric phase, focus on control and carry out slowly.

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