Excel PT: How To Beat Aching Shoulders

Marisa Pontillo, PT, PhD, DPT, SCS FEATURED PT

3 Ways To Relieve Your Shoulder Pain

Your shoulders have to move through an incredible 180 degrees of motion, while still maintaining stability and strength. The shoulder joint acts like a ball in a very shallow socket that is part of the shoulder blade. Some of the most important muscles in the rotator cuff are actually the smallest. The rotator cuff is made up of 4 muscles that are small, but vital to keeping the ball stable in the socket. When these muscles are weak or injured, the ball can jam up into the socket of the shoulder blade, causing inflammation and pain. Try these simple actions to improve the health of your shoulders and alleviate that nagging ache or sharp pain for good: 1. Sit up tall! – The number one reason for repetitive injury and pain in the shoulders is poor posture. When the ball moves forward in the socket, the rotator cuff becomes vulnerable to injury! There is less space for the muscles which can then get “pinched”. The muscles are also overstretched, making them weaker. 2. Strengthen your rotator cuff muscles – By keeping your rotator cuff muscles strong, you help guide your shoulder joints, lessening the chance for injury and inflammation to occur. A simple exercise to perform: while sitting or standing, keep elbows at your side bent to 90 degrees and thumbs up. Push your hands out like opening a newspaper. Repeat 10 times. 3. Improve your scapula stability – The shoulder blade makes up an important part of your shoulder complex. It has many different muscles attached to it, pulling at just the right time for proper shoulder movement. Improve the shoulder blade muscles by frequently firing them. In sitting or standing, drop your shoulders slowly down and back. This wakes up those important muscles, which help guide the shoulder blade when using your arm. Perform 10-15 repetitions, holding the contraction for 5 seconds frequently throughout the day. By working on these 3 simple actions, you can dramatically improve the performance and feel of your shoulders. If your shoulders feel weak, achy, or painful give us a call today. We will definitely get your shoulders feeling limber, stronger and allow you to get back to doing life’s everyday activities pain-free.

1. How did you decide to become a physical therapist and what motivates you to work with patients? I did my undergraduate degree in chemistry, which made me realize quickly that I never, ever wanted to have a career in chemistry. During my transition time, I was working at a gym and completed my personal training certification which led me into physical therapy. I did my DPT at Drexel University, and was interested in orthopedics and sports. I was fortunate enough to do my last clinical rotation at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma in Manhattan, where I realized that my passion lay in sports physical therapy. Seeing my patients return to their previous sport is my motivation. 2. What was your most memorable patient experience? I had the opportunity to work with a professional baseball player who was released from his team after having his 3rd shoulder surgery. After a lengthy and challenging course of care, he was able to return to play at the professional level. He attributes most of his success to the fact that he listened to Taylor Swift non-stop while at PT.

3. If you could be any animal, what would it be and why? In this day and age of dog spas and dog bakeries, I’d have to say a dog. I also think it’d be nice to get carried around when I’m tired.

4. If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be and why? Chill. I try not to sweat the small stuff.

5. What do you like to do in your off time, outside the clinic? I’m a self-proclaimed food and wine connoisseur. I enjoy travel, especially to Canada. I also enjoy kayaking, snowboarding, watching pretty much every sport, and chilling with my very non-athletic dog. I will probably be fully obsessed with Game of Thrones by the time you read this.

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