Don’t let shoulder issues effect your WOD! Dr. Carlson and Active Release Can Help!


by Dr. Richard Carlson

Shoulder pain is common with CrossFit.  The amount of volume placed on the shoulder adds up over time and can lead to overuse injuries.  Between push press, push jerks, strict press, handstand walks/pushups, kipping pull ups, and over head squats a lot of strain is placed on the shoulders.  For that reason, it is important to properly warm up to take care of your shoulders.

Active Release Technique can help decrease the strain from your overuse injuries.  Active Release Technique (ART) is a hands-on soft tissue manipulation technique designed to treat fascial adhesions in muscles, tendons, fascia and ligaments. ART is used by chiropractors and sports injury specialists to break up scar tissue and mobilize soft tissue restrictions.

Many injuriesActive Release Technique, Chiropractor, ART, Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey associated with these areas are the result of repetitive stress; also known as “overuse injuries.”  ART is design to break up adhesions that can build up over time, and undo this repetitive stress on your body.  Some overuse injuries can be: carpal tunnel, shin splints, piriformis syndrome, runners knee, golfers elbow and tennis elbow just to name a few. ART works very well for running injuries, Crossfit injuries and many other sports injuries.

What are Fascial Adhesions?

When muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia are damaged due to over use or trauma, the body forms scar tissue to heal itself.  This scar tissue is very similar to when you cut your skin.  While the skin heals and the bleeding stops, what is left behind is misshapen skin.  Muscles, tendons and fascia respond in a similar manor.  These fascial adhesions often feel like thick bands under the skin that can lead to decrease range of motion and decrease in function.  When these adhesions are in close proximity to a nerve, they can result in numbness and tingling.

How does Active Release Help with Adhesions? 

ART is a set of complex protocols that are designed to help locate and break up these adhesions.  During the first couple passes of ART the doctor is feeling for tone texture, tenderness, and tightness of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves.  Once abnormal tissues are found, pressure is applied and the patient performs specific movements.  These movements, combined with the doctors’ pressure, help release this scar tissue and begin the healing process. 

What is an ART session like? Does it hurt?

Most patients describe ART to me as a “good hurt”.  Throughout the different positions, some areas will be much more tender then others.  These tender areas are often the areas that need focus.  While treatments are not meant to be uncomfortable, some areas may be tender.  Keep in mind, some discomfort is needed to aid in the healing process. 

Here are two shoulder warm up exercises to help with shoulder mobility and health.

  • HALO – This exercise helps loosen up the shoulders and also provide upper thoracic spine mobility.

  • Prayer Stretch – The last five degrees of overhead mobility come from thoracic extensions.  Dr. Carlson finds that many of his patients are restricted in thoracic spine extension which causes them to compensate through the shoulders.  This will also provide a good lat stretch which may help with cleans.

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