In 2010, the CDC reported 1.2 million emergency room visits for shoulder complications. Recently, in 2014 the International Journal of Orthopaedic and Trauma Nursing reported that people with shoulder pain were significantly more burdened by problems regarding their quality of life, depression, anxiety, concern, and somatoform disorders when compared with those with hip pain.
In light of my experience with frozen shoulder, I decided to conduct a small research study in my local movement center to test the affects of yoga therapy on functional shoulder health and emotional well-being. Although more research is needed (clearly), the results of this study were very positive.
We used surveys from the CenteredBeing Well-Being model to measure well-being, self-talk and functional shoulder health, among other things. Many participants showed up with issues ranging from bursitis to impingement to frozen shoulder. After (and while) using other means of healing their shoulders, they were interested in learning self-healing, intelligent movement techniques and stress management strategies to speed the healing process and avoid re-injury.
After 4weeks of yoga therapy (mindful movements, guided imagery, etc.) for one hour each week, there was a marked improvement in all three major areas - well-being, self-talk and functional shoulder health. It was especially exciting to see the direct correlation between functional shoulder health and well-being.
It made sense to me. After being diagnosed with frozen shoulder and unable to find relief any other way, I took matters into my own hands and used the tools I had from my movement and healing knowledge, matched them up with CenteredBeing's protocols and designed a series of movements that worked well in getting my shoulder working again. After 4 months of doing most things with my non-dominant hand, sleeping with ice packs and being awakened by extreme pain, healing was finally taking place.
In addition to my daily yoga therapy practice, I had acupuncture (which initially took the pain away). Thereafter, ART (active release techniques) from my wonderful chiropractor, Dr. Kathy, helped with scar tissue. Now, ten months later, my shoulder is pain free (even after a challenging workout) and at 140 degrees flexion. When you lift your arm in line with your ear you are at full range, 180degrees.
Yoga therapy isn't the be-all when it comes to severe shoulder conditions, but because it incorporates mindful therapeutic movements with proper breathing and imagery, it would be wise to incorporate it into any injury treatment and prevention program. Among the many positive benefits, it helps release the joints and allows the rest of your body to stay strong and flexible while avoiding inefficient compensatory patterns. It's also a great stress reliever. After all, a stressed body endures more pain and doesn't heal well from injuries (or from anything, actually). Here are some comments from participants:
“More physical correlation to being centered.”
“I know how to breathe through pain in my shoulders and also the rest of my body.”
“My shoulder pain has diminished.”
“These last four weeks have given me tools to restore balance in my body and remain active. I was able to refocus and stop favoring areas of pain and instead heal them.”
During my nearly yearlong journey, I can honestly say that without the yoga therapy, I'm not sure how my shoulder would have healed but I'm glad it's well on it's way. Most importantly, my energy and well-being is coming back to better than before the shoulder injury. Most importantly!
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Questions and Answers about Shoulder Problems. Accessed April 1, 2015 at http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Shoulder_Problems/
International Journal of Orthopaedic and Trauma Nursing. Mental health and quality of life in shoulder pain patients and hip pain patients assessed by patient reported outcome. Accessed April 30, 2015 at http://www.orthopaedictraumanursing.com/article/S1878-1241%2813%2900067-1/fulltext
To be the change you wish to see, you've got to feel it in your bones.