Cars, Chandeliers and Shoulders: The Story of Gord The Mechanic
There once was a man named Gord. Gord was a wonderful mechanic. His customers thought so highly of him and his work that they called him Dr. Gord, The Car Doctor. Dr. Gord worked with his hands all day – under cars, over cars, and in cars, working his magic and helping customers from near and far. As a young car Doctor, Dr. Gord became very busy and before he knew it his schedule was packed each day with cars of all shapes and sizes.
Over the years, Dr. Gord never had any body aches or pains until one day, at home on a day off, he decided to install a chandelier his wife wanted in their hallway. Dr. Gord was quite the handyman and was extremely strong, so he decided to put up the chandelier all by himself. As he was reaching up to screw in some bolts, Dr. Gord felt a sudden sharp pain in his shoulder. He didn’t think too much off it, the pain subsided, and he finished the job.
To celebrate the new chandelier, Dr. Gord and his wife invited some friends over for dinner. Dr. Gord and his wife love red wine so they naturally enjoyed a few of their favorite bottles with their friends.
Fast forward to 6:00 am the next morning. Dr. Gord woke up but it wasn’t his alarm that got him out of sleep – it was that shooting pain in his shoulder… again! Dr. Gord went to the bathroom, had a glass of water and hoped that by the time he went back to bed his pain would be gone.
He was wrong.
So he took some aspirin.
As days and weeks went by, Dr. Gord’s pain did not subside. In fact, it got worse even though he was taking pain medication.
“It must be all that red wine I’m drinking!” He would say to his wife. “I can’t think of anything else that would have caused this. I heard from Troy at work that his friend had the same thing – a sore shoulder, all of a sudden. And you know what, he stopped drinking red wine and it went away. I’m going to try the same thing.”
Dr. Gord’s wife wasn’t happy about that, naturally, since she loved her red wine and knew it wouldn’t be the same if she couldn’t enjoy it with her hubby. But she said “Ok Gordie, give it a try for a couple weeks and see if it makes a difference.”
But two weeks went by, and no change. Actually, it got worse! Dr. Gord found that he could not reach as high or move his shoulder around like he used to. He was losing more mobility each day. He couldn’t even exercise or lift weights like he used to, and Dr. Gord loved to exercise! If he couldn’t pump iron or work, he knew something was wrong.
Dr. Gord decided to do something about his shoulder. He finally was able to consult with a Chiropractor he was referred to by a co-worker’s spouse to find out what was going on.
This is what he learned: over the years, his body underwent a lot of wear and tear from his job, plus all the physical activity he enjoyed doing outside of work including exercising, lifting weights, and small fix-ups and renovations in his home. Over time, his shoulders were getting over-stressed, certain muscles were more active than others, and an imbalance occurred. Putting that chandelier up a few weeks ago was just the straw that broke the camels back!
Dr. Gord ended up with a shoulder (rotator cuff) injury where he partially tore one of his muscles. Without the appropriate intervention, it got worse. His body started to protect and lock down his shoulder, reducing the mobility in an attempt to heal. The problem was that he kept repeating the same activities that caused his injury in the first place. It wasn’t until he got the appropriate assessment and treatment that his shoulder was able to heal and move normally without pain.
Dr. Gord’s treatment included a number of components. His Chiropractor was able to identify and work on his areas of restriction and weakness by using Active Release Techniques and chiropractic joint manipulation. Dr. Gord religiously went to his Chiro and found that his mobility came back and his pain went away. When he was ready to end his treatment, his Chiropractor informed him that in order to stay healthy and not come across this issue again, Dr. Gord would have to continue with certain exercises to maintain flexibility, strength and balance.
His rehabilitation included a number of different exercises to help restore his mobility, some of which are shown below. These exercises can be helpful for most people with a similar issue or to prevent this situation from happening to you.
** If you are someone who is active, lifts weights, is physically active in their job or who just wants more shoulder mobility, these exercises are for you.
** If you have an injury or severe lack of mobility, it is important to have a professional assessment prior to doing these exercises.
1) The Stick Stretch
– With the top arm, pull up to feel a stretch in the other shoulder. This targets the posterior capsule of the shoulder joint. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
– With the lower arm, pull down to feel a stretch in the triceps and teres muscles in the other shoulder. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
– Reverse arm grip and repeat.
2) The Foam Roller Stretch
– Place the back of your shoulder on the foam roller. You may need to move around until you feel tension in the muscles.
– Once you find a tender spot, hold pressure on the area for 30 seconds, then move on to the next spot.
– The circle indicates the target area for this exercise.
** I am using the Travel Roller
3) The Pec Chair Stretch
– You can use a chair or coffee table for this exercise.
– Bend your elbow to 90 degrees and place your forearm on the chair or table.
– Bring your upper body towards the floor to feel a stretch in the front of the shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds.
4) The Sleeper Stretch
– Lying on your side, bring your arm out in front of you at a 45 degree angle. Bend your elbow to 90 degrees and bring your hand towards the floor as far as you can.
– Using your other hand, gently push your hand towards the ground. Hold for 30 -60 seconds.
The moral of the story:
- Even though we like to think we are invincible, we are not and at some point there may be a breakdown.
- It is important to seek professional help if you experience any pain, weakness or loss of mobility before it becomes a bigger issue.
- Prevention is key. Just like getting your car’s oil changed or getting your teeth cleaned every 6 months, it is important to keep up with your health and not to let it become an after thought. If you are healthy and mobile, you will be able to keep up with your activities, be more productive in your work, spend quality time with family and friends and improve your quality of life.
* This article first appeared on the Fitness Town blog