By Tom Fontana, MSPT
When physical therapists evaluate patients, the first thing we do is take an extensive history of what hurts and when. Quite often, for patients with shoulder problems, they report it hurts when reaching overhead. It is often perplexing when they also say, “But it can hurt when I’m reaching down, too” such as reaching into a file drawer or bottom shelf of the refrigerator. What’s going on?
As Albert Einstein taught us, everything is relative and, as far as your body is concerned, when you are reaching down you ARE reaching up. Totally lost? Look at the pictures below.
The first picture is me reaching up for a bottle of Biofreeze. The second is me reaching down to the bottom shelf of our staff refrigerator (ugh! Somebody clean that thing!). If you look at the position of my arm RELATIVE to my neck and body, they are practically identical! This is what I mean by “when you’re reaching down, you’re reaching up” and may be a sign you are pinching one of the tendons of your rotator cuff, or you’re developing tendonitis or small tears.
If this is you, start with these exercises and if your symptoms don’t begin to improve after 2-4 weeks you may need more help. Please give us a call if this proves to be the case. 603.644.8334.