Most people feel some shoulder pain at some point in their life. For some it never goes away.
I recently discovered Dr. John Kirsch. He’s a board certified orthopedic surgeon who’s been practicing orthopedic surgery and medicine for over 35 years. He published a book called “Shoulder Pain? The Solution & Prevention”, in which he outlines an exercise program that will allow you to start a healing process and maintain your health. The book is subtitled “The Kauai Study” because Dr. Kirsch first presented the results of his academic study at a meeting of the Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery societies in Kauai, Hawaii.
The Kauai study included 92 carefully followed subjects with shoulder pain problems who followed the Kirsch Institute for Shoulder Research exercise protocol to overcome their shoulder pain, even canceling their planned surgery, and returning to a comfortable daily life. The study found that the most common cause of shoulder pain is a condition called contracture of coracoacromial (CA) arch, which consists of the acromion and coracoacromial ligament and is superior to the glenohumeral joint. This causes an increased pressure on the rotator cuff and the surrounding tissues which can produce pain, and the eventual destruction of the rotator cuff.
The book shows simple exercises to help heal and prevent shoulder pain. They are really simple to do, but at the same time they are so effective.
Hanging can create more space and stretch many of the structures that cause pain and impingement of the supraspinatus. When you do this regularly, you will see the benefits of decreased irritation and shoulder pain.
Hanging remodels or reshapes the shoulder bones and ligaments. While you are hanging, there is a stretching of the arch of the ligament and bone covering the rotator cuff and the CA arch. Hanging stretches the CA arch, expanding the subacromial space. This prevents injuries that result from compression of these tissues.
Without hanging, over time the CA arch will contract. This can lead to pressing the rotator cuff, irritation, inflammation, pain, and degeneration of the tendons.
In the beginning, hanging can feel a little uncomfortable, but you can practice only passive hanging with your feet on the ground, or on a chair or bench, and your arms fully extended as much as possible. Most importantly, you should allow a complete relaxation and have your palms facing forward. You will notice the difference within just a few days.
The book has many images of CT scans and x-ray images of the structures, so it’s very easy to understand what’s going on. I’ve experienced the benefits myself, and some of my clients have seen remarkable changes and improvements in their general health — not just shoulder, but also neck and back pain too.
You can start hanging from a pull-up bar or even a strong door frame (just put a towel on the door to make it more comfortable on your hands). Soon you’ll be able to hang for about 30 seconds, repeating 3 to 5 times, at least 5 days a week. But start off with whatever you can, even if it’s only 10 or 15 seconds. When you start hanging, keep your feet in contact with the floor (or a chair or bench) so that you’re not hanging with your full bodyweight.
If you have acute shoulder issues then make sure to check with your physician, and share this information with them. You may help other patients as well.
It’s time to go back to the playground! Start hanging!