Category Archives for "Shoulder Pain"

Rotator Cuff Tears Rock Climbing Injuries with Wil Seto

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Remarkable Speaking. I'm here with Wil Seto of Insync Physio in Vancouver, one of Vancouver's best pair of physiotherapy clinics. And we're gonna talk about rotator cuff tears from rock climbing. This sounds really sore and hurting already Wil. 

Wil: Yeah. So what is a rotator cuff tear? So, first of all, your rotator cuff, there's four tendons and muscles that make up what's called your rotator cuff in your shoulder. And there's one on the front that's called your subscapularis, they basically attach from your shoulder blade all onto your humerus, which is basically the bone of your arm.

And the subscapularis is the one in the front and then you have one on the top called your supraspinatus. So that's one of the major ones as well. And then your other two, which is in the posterior part or the back part of the shoulder blade, which is basically your infraspinatus and your teres major.

So those are the four that make up your rotator cuff muscles. Now essentially when we look at which one usually tends to get injured, it's typically your supraspinatus. Or your infraspinatus and your teres major, sorry I said teres major before, I meant teres minor. Teres minor is the fourth rotator tear cuff. So the terrace minor and the infraspinatus are the two posterior ones that attach on the back of the shoulder blade. And then one that attaches on the top is the supraspinatus. Those are the ones that tend to be more prone. 

Now the reason why is because they tend to be the ones that get compromised in a few different ways. So you can either have an acute tear, which means like it's, you know, basically a traumatic thing can happen. You can fall on your shoulder and then all of a suddenly tear it and strain it. Or you can have something that's kind of more of like a chronic sort of overuse thing that happens over time.

I previously talked a little bit about shoulder impingement and how to distinguish between that and a rotator cuff. There are certain tests that we do to figure out if it's one or the other. But essentially, when you're looking at the more chronic aspect of a rotator cuff, it's sort of like that slow you know, boil. It's kind of like the frog and the hot water. You know you've done something like as soon as you go into the hot water, you know it's hot and something's happened. That's like the acute tear. 

Whereas like, you know, you kind of keep training and you go to the gym or you're going into the climbing crag outside, you know, three days a week or whatever you're doing. And you start to just get a little bit tighter. You start to notice it and you may not be doing any stretching or any mobility work, and then you just, like suddenly you just wake up one morning, it just feels a little bit more sore. And then now you start to get a bit of that impingement stuff. So it can present like an impingement type of pain for sure.

But then there's certain tests that we can determine whether or not that pain that you're getting is a result of like, maybe something going on more sinister like. In the rotator cuff, like a tear. And ultimately we can only assess in probability. You know, and based on our clinical experience that you know, you look at certain tests that can help you sort of determine whether it is or it isn't. But ultimately the better standard is getting some scans and that'll give you some more information. But rehab is actually very good for even rotator cuff tears. 

Mark: And what does the rehab actually consist of? 

Wil: If it's an acute sort of tear, then we wanna obviously address any of the acute inflammation or anything like that that's happened, like initially. And then as it kind of moves past to like, you know, as it starts to heal, we always wanna consider what that healing timeframe, right? You know, for any kind of soft tissue. But then particularly when you look at a rotator cuff injury tear you know, it's gonna be a little bit longer. So, typically you're looking at anywhere from four to six weeks as sort of a minor tear.

And even something that's more moderate, it can fully heal and it does really well with rehab and physiotherapy. So there's a lot of good studies out there that show that and our clinical experience, we've had a lot of good results with that. And so essentially you know, when we treat it, we wanna also treat the acute aspect of it looking at starting to like build the strength back up into that injured rotator cuff, that tear. But then we also need to address a lot of what's going on in the muscle imbalances, particularly in the shoulder blade. 

So if it was more of an impingement type of issue, where it's chronic, and it kind of led up to more, you know, like this last straw that broke the camel's back kind of thing. Then we want to look at, Okay, well why did this happen? And usually there is a lot that kind of stuff going on, you know, with climbing where there's imbalances. And so we need to address those at the same time because if you don't, then you're not really able to address the proper mechanics of what you wanna have occur in the shoulder joint as you start to rehab the actual tear.

Because you need to actually have a proper moving functioning shoulder blade with all the muscles working properly. Cause you have so much different motions even in and around the whole shoulder blade that help with your actual area of that rotator cuff. So it's not just like your arm and your shoulder moving.

Your shoulder also consists of your shoulder blade, which is called your scapula. And so there's that shoulder blade moves, it actually assists with the whole mobility of that whole shoulder joint. So that becomes a little bit more complex and we address what those deficits and deficiencies are.

And then if there's like tightness in certain areas in the capsule, then we need to address that and do a lot of things to help facilitate that manually. And then exercise is a really important aspect of making sure that we reinforce the mobility gains, and then also just proper specific ones for whatever's going on, like with a tear. So you make sure that we're not going too hard too fast, if you've come in acutely. Or, you know, doing the appropriate things when you've waited a long time and getting you activated. 

Mark: So if you're having some shoulder pain and you suspect maybe it's a tear, get some expert diagnosis with the experts at Insync Physio. You can reach them and book at They have two locations, one in Vancouver. You can also call to book if you wanna talk to a human being, (604) 566-9716. You can book, both clinics online or you can call the Burnaby office (604) 298-4878. They'll get you back moving well, back climbing again. Thanks Wil. 

Wil: Thanks Mark.

Shoulder Instability with Iyad Salloum

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Remarkable Speaking. I'm here with Iyad Salloum he is the clinical director of Insync Physio in North Burnaby. And we're going to talk about shoulder instability, something that I know quite a bit about just from not, well, I don't nothing about it, but I have experienced a lot of it. How are you doing Iyad? 

Iyad: Good, good Mark. How are you doing? Hopefully your shoulder's not unstable. 

Mark: Well, it's gotten a lot better, but what's sort of the typical cause of that sort of instability that people can have and the pain that comes with it. 

Iyad: Yeah, so broadly speaking, you're going to split them up into two categories. You're going to have somebody who falls into the traumatic category. So like, think of anywhere from a baseball player, diving in with their arms stretched or a mountain biker falling or you know, any kind of impact that causes this. So you have that in some of the contact sports like rugby. So there's a lot of different mechanisms that could cause a shoulder dislocations and then give you, what, basically presents like a loose shoulder where people feel like they can't control it. And it doesn't sit well, the ball, sits in the socket kind of thing. 

And then you have another group where it's a little more interesting. Where are they have a loose shoulder kind of congenitally in a way. So the ligaments and the things that holds the shoulder together passively are just a bit more mobile than you'd want them to be.

And then in that group, you'll get basically what we'd call a multi-directional instability. So it's not going to be just the movement is not going to be excessive in one direction. It tends to be excessive in all directions. Meanwhile, on the traumatic side, for the most part, people tend to acquire this looseness, let's call it, and they would tend to be more one or two directions.

So not necessarily in all planes with the movement, for the ball moving in the socket. So those are the two kind of broadly speaking, those are the two groups that get this. Obviously the treatment for each one will be a bit different. 

So for example, the traumatic people, we will not be the ones usually doing the relocations. It tends to be done by a physician. Most people will go to the ER when they dislocate their shoulder and then have it relocated there. And we're involved after they get it relocated. The care off of that is all ours. And we can talk about their treatment plan from there.

Now, the other group, the rehab tends to be a bit different. We will try to identify, I guess, that they are just that multi-directional instability. And then we would kind of deal with accordingly by a mix of strengthening and proprioception training, which is kind of like your joint position sense.

So help their body identify and figure out where the shoulder is in space to allow their muscles to react in an adequate way. So it's a mix of sensory training and motor training, which is kind of like the typical resisted based program. 

Mark: So weight training of some or resistance training of some kind basically is a big part of that.

Iyad: Of course, we would want to make sure that they're able to handle the forces that they need to put on their shoulder day-to-day. So that's going to be a part of it, but then it's not enough just to kind of do blind strengthening. Sometimes we'd need to also do some kind of coordination training. And this is where the proprioception exercises come in.

Mark: So that's sort of the, what do they call it where you're feeling things in a certain way. What do you call that kind of training? 

Iyad: So here's an example. So the easiest one that most of us are familiar with is how do you stand on one foot with your eyes closed, for example? And the way we do that is we get tons of signals from what we call Somato sensory fibres. So those are things like our skin. Our muscles, inside the muscle there's a thing called the spindle. We also have little organs in our tendons. So all of those things will feed back into our brain. Our brain kind of puts it all together and it responds according to changes in those signals. 

So in doing the training, for example, after an ankle sprain, we would do tons of balance training to help boost that system. And this is kind of, you could think of it, I guess, in loose terms like balance training for your shoulder, in a way.

So we would do you know anything from weight bearing to different kind of more, I call it kind of like when we get you to do a math problem with your shoulder, or we give you a task that involves you needing to balance or coordinate changes in weight and your shoulder just has to kind of learn to balance and stabilize itself.

And we can progress that sometimes by adding a little more complexity like weight-bearing, or like maybe removing some of the visual stimulus, like closing the eyes and things like that to help kind of boost that system a bit more. But that's just kind of broadly speaking in each person's going to come in at a different level. Some people are able to do a lot. They run and, some people are going to be moving a lot slower.

Mark: When these kind of things happen, is it possible for instance, to have like, the way it worked with me was I got throwing injuries without warming up properly, starting too young. And my shoulder was always stiff. Like I lost range of motion in my shoulder. And then doing martial arts, doing jujitsu, got arm barred a few times. And then finally a really good one, I heard a pop in my shoulder and then suddenly the range of motion is back, but it's unstable. Is that fairly typical or possible, obviously it's possible. Is that a typical? 

Iyad: Yeah, so what sometimes you can have is a shoulder that is not fully relocated, so it's kind of sitting slightly out of place. And that depends on if it actually was relocated or not. You could have had, for example, a different kind of stiffness. The stiffness could be protective. It could also be that you just stopped moving in that way to protect yourself. Could be there's a lot of reasons why that could happen.

Now, in your case with the arm bar, you said, yeah, you felt a bit looser, but then it became a bit more unstable. I mean, that would fall into the traumatic kind of thing. And you probably ended up moving the ball the too far forward in the socket. And that's what did that.

We want mobility sometimes, but sometimes too much mobility could be a detriment. Especially if you think about mobility with no end, it could be a bit detrimental sometimes, especially if your muscles and your ligaments are moving past their natural end. So I think that could happen.

But the most typical one would be if somebody's really, really stiff after an episode, it will tend to be because either that the shoulder was not relocated, then they think it's fine. It's just a bit stiff. Or sometimes it could be due to protective stiffness. And in some cases we do ask people to go get to the hospital and get it checked because a dislocation can impact a structure called the axillary nerve.

So usually people with axillary nerve issues will present with a slightly different set of symptoms. And we always are vigilant for that in clinic, just to make sure that there's no nerve involvement because the nerves tends to wrap around kind of the neck of the humerus, which is kind of your shoulder bone.

So yeah, there's lots of things that we'd want to keep an eye out for. And again, each person is different. Some people just have a dislocation, get it relocated and then do very well in rehab. And some people never really cope well with it and might have to consider a surgical route. I guess it depends for the most part on your age, your level of competitive involvement in sports and things like that and how you respond to rehab really. People do really well, but there's still a subset of people who will need a surgical intervention. And we would work really closely with an orthopedic surgeon on the management there. 

Mark: So with all the range of motion that's involved in the shoulder joint, what's kind of the process of diagnosis to try and determine what's going on?

Iyad: Yeah. So the story's a big one, of course. Like you have people coming in they're like I can just feel extra movement, extra clicking. I don't want to really pull my arm up. There's a lot of apprehension that comes with this and the apprehension is actually quite a good sign. Where people feel like their shoulder's, just a bit different and a bit looser.

And there are some clinical tests that we do to test for that, that potentially can strain or stress the capsule, which is, think of the white stuff that you'd see on a drawing. Not the red stuff that are the muscles, but more like the ligamentous tissue. So we would stress those in different planes.

Obviously we do it in a controlled way that we're not just yanking the shoulder really fast and that can help us identify the direction of potential injury. And then from there, we would try to also figure out the baseline for strength and function and then go from there. But yeah, we would want to do some testing to figure out if there has been movement, excessive movement in there, or if it's just apprehension, because sometimes you can create a bit of a fear response. So I've had lots of clients who have tested very normally on the tests, but have a ton of apprehension and they don't let you go there. But the second you rest your hand on their shoulder, they can move really well because the apprehension kind of eases up a bit.

So there are people who we need to train for confidence almost as much as, and kind of to help that nervous system attenuate that response just as much as we need to fix the structures sometimes, you know what I mean? So it's not always a structural damage issue or a structural stretch to the ligaments.

Sometimes people just come so protective of themselves, and this is something that happens, not at a conscious level always because the nervous system is pretty complicated that way. And that's your body's response to excessive movement. You just try to put the kibosh on everything and just pump the brakes.

Mark: So clearly there's no typical course of treatment, but what would, you've mentioned some of the things that are, can you give us some examples of what the people would look at in terms of treatment? 

Iyad: Yeah. So let's say if you come in with full range of motion to start, obviously that shaves off a bit of time. If you're not, then we'll have to look at improving your range of motion again. And then the reason we have that is well after the injury and after the reduction, there's a period sometimes for some people that are going to need to go into a sling. So the sling obviously, immobilizes the shoulder a bit, the sling will also sometimes cause a bit of stiffness. So that's going to be the first bit to start moving the shoulder. And we move it in a way that's not necessarily excessive, but we need to kind of push it a bit. 

And then we start identifying strike deficits. So we would do just kind of your typical rotator cuff strength and also scapular muscle strength. The muscles in the shoulder blade are really important, but the rotator cuff tends to be non-negotiable here again. And then we try to just see the quality of movement and coordination. But then again, this goes back to the same idea of previous things that we talked about.

So for example, if I have a high level baseball player who needs to pitch at a very high speed, their recovery is going to be so different to somebody who fell down the stairs and just needs to be able to walk. And do their own activities of daily living, like, you know, washing their hair or doing your dishes and stuff like that. Brushing their teeth. It's just things like this, that really determined the length of treatment. 

Typically the more you need from your shoulder to the longer you should expect to need to work on it. But this is why it varies because, you know, you could have somebody who just had this at the age of 50 or an 18 year old who is super involved in five sports and just needs their arms for so much more than somebody else. And that's kind of where we can tinker with it and kind of look at developing a very comprehensive program for that person.

Mark: Complicated. Shoulders are complicated. You need expert help. If you're shoulder just doesn't feel right. It's clicking, it's making noise. It hurts to do things. You don't want to reach up over your head anymore. You need to get that looked at and get it looked after. And the experts on this are at Insync Physio. They have two locations. Cambie Street in Vancouver or the North Burnaby office. You can call and book (604) 298-4878. On Cambie at (604) 566-9716. Or for convenience, book online at Both clinics are there. You can see who's available and get in to see them. Get your shoulder looked after. And get back to living your life the way you wanna live it and your sporting life, the way you want to do it. Thanks Iyad. 

Iyad: Thanks Mark.

Rotator Cuff Pain with Iyad Salloum

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from Remarkable Speaking. I'm here with Iyad Salloum. He's the chief guy at Insync Physio in North Burnaby. He's an expert in many things physiotherapy. And today we're going to talk about fairly famous kind of thing. If you're into baseball at all, rotator cuff pain. What is the rotator cuff Iyad?

Iyad: Hey, Mark. Yeah, so the rotator cuff simply put is a collection of muscles that we have in our shoulders. There's four of them and they attempt to form a bit of a sling around their ball and socket joint. As you know, the shoulder is a ball and socket joint, and it moves through a big range of motion, more than any other joint in our body.

So when you have that much movement in a joint, you need some way of controlling and stabilizing it when you move and you initiate things. So simply, but that's what the shoulder needs is a nice sling of muscles that support it and help it do its function. So that's shortly put what a rotator cuff is and what it does.

Mark: So I know that there can be a lot of different symptoms. What are the typical symptoms that you see when somebody comes in and you start to diagnose what's going on with their shoulder pain? 

Iyad: Yeah. So rotator cuff related pain is very, very common, and you have like so many different things. So for example, you can have a traumatic injury, where somebody has a fall or some kind of direct impact on it, where it gets injured that way. And they tend to present very differently than the ones who, which are non-traumatic, which happened slowly over time. So typically, what we'll see is like in an acute case of traumatic or non-traumatic, they tend to present a bit differently.

So for example, in a non traumatic case, they'll tend to tell you that they are slowly feeling that their arms getting a bit weaker and they can't lift the coffee mug up anymore, can't pour the tea kettle, just basic things like that. And then over time they feel like they've lost more and more function and they feel like they can't use their arm the same way they did, and it's incredibly painful, tends to be anywhere around kind of this area. I can actually go down to the elbow even sometimes. And that's just where the structure tends to refer. Usually there's a complaint of weakness. So they can't be as strong as it used to be with shoulder pain. 

We don't see so much pain here. So this is kind of where a lot of people confuse shoulder pain with with the neck. You can actually have the neck referring to the shoulder too. And that's one of the things we'd want to rule out in the clinic. That it's not a neck that we're treating that it's actually just shoulder. 

And I guess the most common thing that we will see is that for non-traumatic shoulder pain is that people suddenly will tell you, Yeah, I did nothing different. And then when you dig into a bit more, It turns out that, you know, somebody had been out of the gym for two months or three months and then went back in or somebody out of nowhere, suddenly upped their weight or they were doing the usual stuff. And then if it's an elderly person, for example, who's not as active, they could be like, Oh, I did just all the weeding in my backyard, all at once. So it tends to be things like that where there's a sudden change in activity level. And then that kind of spike, you can think of it, that sudden spike in load and it can take a few weeks for it show up in some kind of injury.

Mark: So how does that differ from like throwing injuries where people are getting that, that rotator cuff problem? We've heard a lot about it in baseball pitchers and football quarterbacks, et cetera. Anyone who throws. What's the difference? 

Iyad: So the difference is, I guess in like, like you said, like the, the cuff has to do so many different things. So one of the things that we think about is think of a baseball pitcher. They have a huge amount of demand on that shoulder to launch a ball at a hundred plus kilometres, miles an hour. Like depending on what level you're working with versus let's say a break dancer has to be able to jump up and down on their arms. 

So both of these people will demand a lot of good shoulder strength and stability, but their uses tend to be a bit different. So in the throwing athlete, one of the things that we see a lot is we see deficits in the chain. So think of the throwing movement, nobody just grabs her arm and just kind of launched it this way without kind of a full windup of their body.

And that's where the assessment of a throw work tends to be a little more complex because we want to look at them from the legs up. And we want to see where along that force transfer chain, does this you know, is there something missing. The shoulders having to pick up the slack more, for example? And it could just be a matter of throwing too much. Full-stop. So even if you have great form, ultimately there's a limit to how much we could kind of handle. And that's where you're seeing a lot of little league and like organizations controlling pitch counts, which is how much people are throwing. And that's really important I think, so that you're not getting a an adolescent, you know, completely destroying their shoulder by the time they're 18, just cause they threw too much at once.

So then in the thrower, if you think about it, what that shoulder's doing is it's trying to transfer force from your body into the shoulder. So from the hips, from the trunk, from your kind of core and then from your kind of rotational movement of your kind of upper back into the shoulder.

So think of it like a sling that transfers force versus generates the force. Meanwhile other things like think of like a powerlifter where they might have to just hold their position very stable when they're kind of pushing big weights. So it tends to be a bit different. But the principles are pretty similar. Shoulders really good at transferring force versus generating all of it on its own. It can still do quite a bit of it. 

That's why we still see somebody with a bit of, let's say a bit missing from their back and hip mobility, still be able to throw a really fast ball because that's their compensation mechanism, is that they could still kind of launch it that way. But yeah, that's where I would say it's a bit different than let's say the more sedentary population where they're doing just home-based stuff or think of like chores around the house and they start to develop these issues.

Mark: So when you're diagnosing it, obviously history is really important, but what are some of the other things that you're looking for when you're digging into what's actually going on in the rotator cuff? 

Iyad: Yeah, the history is the most important thing for sure, because it kind of helps you figure out where to go. We would want to measure a few things like their range of motion, obviously. And we want to look at just how they move, the quality of the movement. We tend to look at shoulder blade, the shoulder, their are upper back. We want to look at the movement that bothers them too. So there are tests that we do use for the shoulder specifically, but sometimes the most important test is that the person comes and tells you, they're like, I can't reach up to do this. I can't pour my thing. So that tends to be quite significant. 

So we would look at that and see what about that movement we could modify. What about that movement we could kind of identify issues with. We'd want to look at strengths for sure, if we're suspecting a rotator cuff issue. And then we kind of want to get them on a program to help address those deficits.

Mark: So what is a typical course of treatment? What does that look like? 

Iyad: It depends on where along the spectrum the person is. So some people tend to be very high functioning and they tend to actually just have, you know, kind of like a, like we said, last time about the Achilles tendon, like the person who hurts a 10 K versus, oh, I, I can't get out of bed and walk, are kind of different. So that's the same thing with rotator cuff related shoulder pain. You're not going to give a one size fits all treatment because you might be either under dosing someone or overdosing someone. 

So we'd want to look at obviously if there's mobility deficits, we'd want to get that back. Get the range going. We would want to look at their shoulder blade muscles. Tends to be a lot of strength work. Because we see actually pretty good value for resistance training. And a lot of the time, it's just the fact that people are engaging in resistance training really, really helps especially for shoulder pain.

So they'll tell you that they feel better even before that a strength comes back, which is really kind of good news. So you're not going to have to suffer too much through it. So it's a bit of that. We want to look at the functions that they need to do. And it's kind of trying to mimic that in an exercise program.

So think of, for example, if it's a thrower, we would want to do a lot of whole body conditioning and like working on that kind of pattern of throwing. So from the legs up. If it's somebody, like an example, we had a break dancer who couldn't just hold a handstand. We do a lot of work in weight-bearing and we want to work on that stability in weight-bearing and that strength in weight-bearing. And we'd kind of start with two arms progress to one, and we got really creative with how to apply resistance in those positions.

So that's kind of where we would start. We'd want to figure out where you're at and just start to take you to where you want to be. And it, but tends to be a lot of strengths work for the bulk of the program, if they have good range and they have good control. 

Mark: And recovery times? 

Iyad: Great question. According to a lot of studies, we're looking at, if it's the first time people have had this, for proper recovery, we're looking at 12 weeks. So the good news is a lot of people will recover their, let's say their pain and day-to-day use of the shoulder early on. But that might not mean that they're ready to go and throw you know, a full inning, for example.

So we would want to kind of give it a proper healing time and we also want to give it a proper rehab time. So the biggest mistake we could do is just stop when it's not painful anymore. Because most of the time when we see our athletes they're always dealing with some kind of pain. So they're not really averse to a bit of pain. So that's not why they're seeing it, they're seeing it because they're seeing a different performance. And they tend to see us because they're like, I can't throw as fast as I could before. And that's more distressing to them then, oh, my shoulder hurts a bit after I throw. If you would tell an athlete that they could just do whatever they want, despite the pain, they would probably push through it. They tend to be wired differently. 

But yeah, we would want to give it about 12 weeks. If this is the first time they've had a rotator cuff problem. What we see is when somebody had recurrent problems, the recovery tends to be a bit longer for them to regain normal function, but the good news is they'll be pretty busy. Like, so if you're an active person, you could be very busy with exercise and activity, despite your rotator cuff pain. And that's where I guess we come in. To kind of just put up a nice structured program for them to kind of follow. 

Mark: How important is the split between getting in to see you and getting diagnosed and getting a prescription of here's, how to exercise and making sure that they're actually doing the exercises right and seeing you once a week. Compared to the work they do at home. 

Iyad: Both are really important. So work is really important at home. Because even if you're seeing us weekly, the thing is, you got to remember it's half an hour a week, you have 23 and a half hours in that day. And then another six times 24 hours to do a lot of good or a lot of nothing.

So I think you can't really prop one up without the other. So home exercise is non-negotiable with this population for sure. Where we can help for example, is sometimes we're seeing people a lot less frequently. But one of the things that we can't do is for example, progress them without assessment.

So we're not going to just give them an arbitrary 12 week program all at once. We kind of want to see how they're at. Because some people progress way faster. And so we don't follow the time based measure specifically. Tends to be more by milestone. So if you're able to kind of clear the first hurdle, we get you into the second one right away.

So we don't have to wait two, three weeks to do that. And by that same token, and you're going to get some people who are slower responders. And if I was to progress you, yeah, it's been two weeks, let's push you to the next one. And you're actually going to not do as well because we're not following your own trajectory.

So each person's a bit different and that's where we need to be very aware of what every person's tolerance is. And it tends to also kind of carry a host of other things. We're not looking at just the shoulder with the shoulder. It tends to be a whole upper body assessment, versus assessing the whole upper limb.

And if it's a thrower, we're assessing literally anywhere from foot mobility, all the way up to shoulder, back and neck. So, so yeah, I would say most people will tend to have Googled a lot of exercises when they come in. And some of them have a bit of success, but then they say I hit a plateau and it tends to be because it's hard for you to self-assess your whole body.

And you don't have eyes in the back of your head to watch you from the third person point of view. So that's where we can add a lot of value and help out with quality of movement and just like proper programming. 

Mark: So if you want to get better, fast and permanently, the guys to see are Insync Physio in North Burnaby, you can book online at Or you can book at the Vancouver office they're on Cambie, (604) 566-9716. The North Burnaby office is at (604) 298-4878 to book. You have to call and book ahead. They're always busy and they get a lot of fantastic reviews. They're multi time winners of best in Burnaby. Best in Vancouver at physiotherapy. Get yourself in there. Get some expert advice and get better quicker, permanently. Insync Physio. Thanks Iyad. 

Iyad: Thanks Mark.

Shoulder Rotator Cuff Climbing Injury Rehab Resisted Bear Walk

Start in 4 point position on your hands and the forefoot or the balls of your feet with your knees greater than 90 degrees with 4 feet Resistance bands tied diagonally from opposite thumb webspace to ankles.

As you place one hand forward bring your opposite foot forward as well. Do this while you also keep the shoulder blade muscles and your neck position in neutral. Repeat this for 30 seconds 3 sets 2x/day.

This is a great progressive core stability muscle strengthening exercise for rehabbing your shoulder and rotator cuff injuries. 

Shoulder Rotator Cuff Climbing Injuries Belly Ball Dribble

Lie on your stomach on top of a built up mat 5-8 inches high. Keep your feet wide apart with toes to the ground, with your face and chin clearing the mat and your arms straight and wide grasping a large exercise ball on the ground.

Dribble the large exercise ball with both hands while you keep your front lower core engaged and lower back straight. Prevent your low back from going into extension. Activating the lower quadrant core muscles will enhance and optimize your strength and movement patterns to your full potential.

Repeat this for 10 seconds doing 10 reps 2sets daily. This can be progressed by increasing your dribbling up to 20 seconds for 5 reps 2 sets and ultimately to 30 seconds for 3 reps 2 sets.

Another great strengthening exercise to rehab from your rotator cuff shoulder injuries! 

Rock Climbing Shoulder Injuries with Wil Seto

Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Wil Seto. He's the owner chief cook and bottle washer at Insync Physiotherapy in two locations, one in Vancouver, one in North Burnaby. And today we're going to talk about one of his favourite activities, rock climbing, but specifically rock climbing shoulder injuries. How do you hurt your shoulder rock climbing Wil? 

Wil: Yeah. Hey Mark. So one of the most common ways to actually injure your shoulder in rock climbing is basically over-training and overusing your shoulder and movements, not actually recovering enough. And so the shoulder is actually the third, most common part of the body to be injured in rock climbing.

And more specifically with overuse type of injuries related to the shoulder. You can get some other type of injuries that are more traumatic, like from a fall or something like that. But that's like far and few. 

Mark: So is this more of a problem now with the advent of indoor climbing? 

Wil: Yeah, I'm definitely seeing a lot more of it. Also, like I think you know, like we talk about the indoor climbing sort of booming here. Now that rock climbing is a, I mean, it's a professional sport and the 2020 Olympics, I guess it was 2021 in Japan where it made its debut. And so as a result there's a lot of people coming out to the gym and like, Hey, rock climbing, let's check it out. And people who are athletic too, right. They're really gung-ho about it. They may have been working out in the gym, like maybe four or five days a week and they go hard in the gym and then they try rock climbing and then they go hard in the rock climbing gym. Same kind of intensity. 

But when you start off with rock climbing, you've got to be a lot more careful just because you're strong and really physically fit because you go to the gym, doesn't mean you're strong and physically fit for rock climbing. 

Mark: Very different moves. So what kind of symptoms would somebody have from a shoulder problem from overuse rock climbing?

Wil: Yeah. So it'd be like some soreness and achiness, ascribing, a little bit about like, you know, that sort of delayed onset muscle soreness in the elbow earlier in another session. But like, you can also get stuff where it's like moving can be really affected. So it may feel more pinchy. You may feel more limited.

Like you may not actually have any pain in certain realms of movement sort of below or whatnot, or with it sort of a plane of movement, but then as soon as you go beyond that plane, then you start to feel more of a pinching or a sharp pain. And I think when it comes to that you know, most people start to recognize that you need to get looked at. But what I also do see that people start to try to stretch it out and they may have done things from their old athletic days where they've been training. It kind of gets the pain, you know, puts it in check a little bit, but then, and they can keep going, but then it's always there.

And so the problem with that then is then you develop this movement pattern dysfunction. And actually I should correct myself. It's not a developing of the movement pattern dysfunction because the movement pattern dysfunction is already there. Now it's accentuating that even more. And we can talk a little bit more about that as well. 

Mark: Sure. So the cause is basically training too much, not resting enough, maybe bad technique could be part of it. And then when you're diagnosing that, you're mainly using history. How are you climbing? How much you climbing, is that their main function of how you're diagnosing it to start at least.

Wil: Absolutely. So the history gives me an indication of what to look for and then it points me in the right direction. And then we're going to figure out, you know, what part of the shoulder is affected. So that's in the clinical exam when we look at you. So we have a group of rock climbing physiotherapists here. When you come in, we examine and then the other thing that we also do, we notice, and this is like probably 10 out of 10 times, there is a very, very definite movement dysfunction. So what I mean by that is he compared to the other side, that's no problem. And that side that's affected. It's like, what's going on there? How come it's doing that?

And then you try to compensate or facilitate a more normal movement pattern. And then they're like, now they can move again. There's no more pinching pain. So those are very common things that we look for. And we assess those things more thoroughly because we want to get at the root cause.

And part of getting at the root cause is in looking at, Oh, well, you know, what's happening in the neck, because the neck is intimately connected with the shoulder. There's a lot of muscles that connect onto the shoulder to the neck and they work together in synergy. 

Mark: Is it fair to say that the shoulder is the most complex joint in the body?

Wil: I wouldn't say it's the most, but it's definitely very complex. It's very complex with respect that you have a joint that basically is a ball and socket, so that you can imagine, like, you know a golf ball sitting on a golf tee. And then basically the cartilage and the ligaments is what keeps it on more when you're trying to move it around. And the muscles and the rotator cuff. It's very dynamic. And because you have this like 360 degree range of motion, it allows you that freedom. But at the same time, there's a lot of things can sort of go awry. 

Mark: A lot of different little muscles in there and attachments and stuff going on. 

Wil: And they all must work together. 

Mark: And in the right order, of course. So if you've had some pain in there, is this a way to maybe describe it for people that I've injured something, perhaps even underneath under the scapula or the shoulder blade or whatever. And now I just don't reach the same way and I'm kind of twisting myself in order to be able to do things, to avoid the pain. And I don't even notice it anymore. Is that kind of what we're talking about? That movement patterns that are not working properly anymore? 

Wil: Yeah. Like before becomes even symptomatic, you've already developed it. Exactly. So we see this all the time. And it may even start from like a very minor neck thing. Where you might have like, had whiplash from say, I'm just giving you an example. You're a snowboarder as well, and you might have had a bit of a whiplash and then you shake it off, but then you like, you know, you go climbing and then you're pushing it. So there's all these factors that where now you're like, Oh, I'm increasing my intensity. And I'm pushing that. And now your shoulder has to work harder. Because now you don't have like this movement function in your neck, that's optimal. And now you have to compensate with your shoulder. And over time that starts to get more accentuated and then et cetera, et cetera.

Mark: So how difficult is it to diagnose which muscles and ligaments and tendons and pulleys are actually involved in the shoulder issue that someone might have. 

Wil: Well, for us in our team, our rock climbing physio team here, it's fairly easy. As long as you know we get the right information and you're not poor historians, but the movement doesn't lie. You can't fake the way you move your shoulder. So then like, Oh, what's going on there? Like, did you have, you know, was there something in there before, or did you have this for a long time? So it's interesting. Like there's always a history. And like you said earlier, and in terms of like, is the subjected history, one of the biggest ways and best ways to first diagnose. And it's the key.

And you know, it's interesting because we're working the national championships this coming weekend, February 19th, 20th, 20 and 22 here. And there's some climbers, high performance climbers that we've been treating. And it's funny because it was like, Oh, you had an injury there. And they're like, Oh yeah, I forgot. I'm like, that's why it's moving a little bit off. It's really interesting. 

Mark: So what's the typical course of treatment for people? 

Wil: Well it really depends. Like if it's something that's really severe in terms of the movement pattern dysfunction, and it's been going on for a long time and they can't even use their arm. It really takes a lot to try and break those patterns. So we got to do a lot of things to break those patterns with a hands-on approach, you know, whatever modalities that we choose to use that would be most affective for the individual. Plus specific exercise to reinforce the mobility patterns that we want. And the strengthening patterns that we want. And the movement patterns that we want.

So that's the longer game right there. So that's going to take anywhere from, you know, somebody that has something really minor maybe, you know, like several weeks, seven to 10 weeks, maybe, to someone that has more major things going on. It can be several months up to a year.

And especially if you're not consistent with doing your recovery and consistent with your exercises because you know, it's the most important thing to be able to keep retraining that. Some people come in and see us. We reset it with all the things that we do. And we give you things to reinforce it, but you need to keep reinforcing it. It's the training. That's why we give you the exercises that you can retrain it.

Mark: So typical course of treatment could be up to a year. How long until somebody's pain-free? 

Wil: Like I said, it could be even like a couple of treatments. And then we still need to address, you know, that movement dysfunction. And so we do a couple of treatments, reset things, and then they're on their own, really trying to work hard on it.

And if they're really committed to it and most climbers usually are, the ones that are more avid because they basically chase the climbs. And it's kind of a rush thing and you're just kind of addicted. And so part of like staying climbing, and then you want to do the things that are going to help you. So to anywhere like, yeah, it could be like a year or two where you're coming in intermittently here for the same issue.

And it's not uncommon. Like I see someone that's coming in. Yeah, it was good for like six months. And then, you know, I kind of stopped climbing a little bit cause I was working too much. And then I stopped my exercises and it's not a dissimilar story. When it comes to sort of that. But then when it comes to sort of some of the high performance climbers that I've treated, it's a lot easier and there's been some traumatic ones that I've treated that it does take a little longer. But those are far and few. You know, if it's a surgical thing then it could take over a year, a year and a half. 

Mark: And how often is it that you're treating neck, shoulder, elbow, fingers, hands all at the same time, trying to get that whole chain working properly again?

Wil: Quite often. And like I was saying earlier, the neck and the shoulder are so intimately connected that you need to be able to address both. And all of them at the same time. 

Mark: If you want some expert help for your climbing injuries, the guys to see, especially your shoulders, in Vancouver, Insync Physio. You can book online at They're high performance climbers, there's lots of them in there, both the clinics. In Vancouver at (604) 566-9716. If you want to phone and book. Or North Burnaby (604) 298-4878. Get your shoulder looked after. Get pain-free and start doing those high risk climbs that you love to do. Thanks. Wil. 

Wil: You bet. Thanks Mark.

Rotator Cuff Injury Horizontal Ball Catches

Start on your knees and lie with your belly on a balance ball while you engage your core stability muscles of your lower back to keep your posture in neutral.

Hold a lacrosse ball in your hand with your elbow up and knuckles pointing down. Open your palm releasing the ball and quickly rotate the forearm backwards and then quickly rotate it back to catch the ball with your hand without letting the ball fall to the ground. It’s important to only pivot through the elbow and not the entire arm and shoulder. Repeat this for 30 seconds doing 3 sets for each side daily.

This is a great dynamic strengthening exercise to rehab a shoulder or rotator cuff injury. If you have any pain or difficulty doing this exercise, consult your local physiotherapist before continuing. 

Rotator Cuff Injury Sitting Ball Catches

You can sit on a balance ball to make this more challenging but a regular chair or seat will work ok too. Hold a lacrosse ball in your hand with your elbow up and forearm parallel to the ground, keeping your shoulder down.

Remember to engage your core stability muscles of your lower back to keep your posture in neutral. 

Open your palm releasing the ball and quickly rotate the forearm backwards and then quickly rotate it back to catch the ball with your hand. It’s important to only pivot through the elbow and not the entire arm and shoulder. Repeat this for 30 seconds doing 3 sets for each side daily.

This is a fantastic dynamic strengthening exercise to rehab a shoulder or rotator cuff injury. If you have any pain or difficulty doing this exercise, consult your local physiotherapist before continuing.

Rotator Cuff Injury Rehab – Bear Walk

Start in 4 point position on your hands and the forefoot or the balls of your feet with your knees greater than 90 degrees. As you place one hand forward, bring your opposite foot forward as well.

 Do this while you also keep the shoulder blade muscles and the core stability muscles in your low back engaged. Repeat this for 25 seconds 3 sets daily.

This type of closed chain exercise is great to retrain the rotator cuff in a body weight functional movement pattern for all sports and activities that require strenuous physical activity strength of the upper limb. 

Rock Climbing warm up Shoulder and Hip Openers

Start with weight shifted to a right side step and right arm behind and hand up the back. Then step right foot back to centre with the arm and hand back in front in neutral.

Then back flag the right foot to the left side and reach the right arm straight up to the ceiling and return to the start with the right side step and arm behind and hand up the back again. Repeat this for 10 reps on each side for a couple sets. 

This is a great way to open up the mobility of the shoulder and hips and to get the movement patterns of those muscles working while mimicking important climbing movements.

If you have any pain or difficult doing this exercise, consult your local physiotherapist before continuing.