Saturday, March 20, 2010

stretching the coracohumeral ligament

This afternoon, I finished reading the article Positional Stretching of the Coracohumeral Ligament on a Patient with Adhesive Capsulitis: A Case Report, by Jose Orlando Ruiz. It sounded interesting and simple enough, so I decided to try it. The article can be summed up with one quote:
The primary purpose of this single-patient case report is to describe outcomes of a positional stretching technique following the anatomical orientation of the two bands of the CHL and rotator interval capsule in a patient with [adhesive capsulitis].
Of course, the case study was done on one person, so in some sense it's meaningless. On the other hand, I doubt it could hurt. In fact, my physical therapist has encouraged me to do general stretching exercises, even allowing weight-lifting, as long as I avoid painful movements (although in point of fact, the physical therapy exercises that were prescribed to me always cause the largest degree of pain). I've already been doing an exercise which is very similar to the one described, only I didn't go so far as to bring my affected arm behind my back for additional stretching.

The article describes pretty clearly the stretching exercise, and also shows a photo of the action (Fig 2). I didn't want to lie down, so I tried to emulate this position while standing. I brought my left arm behind my back as shown in the figure, and used my right arm to help keep it pinned back, meanwhile extending my chest out and focusing on bringing my scapula together in the back. I could feel a decent stretch in the front of the shoulder, and only a very minor amount of pain.

Actually, there's a bodybuilding pose called the side triceps which is quite similar to this move. However, in my case, I kept my hand supinated as described in the article and shown in the figure.

In addition, the article says the stretch is done with ice applied ("cryotherapy"), but I did not try that. The idea is that the cold helps to "contract the tissues in the new lengthened position". Hm, I don't know about that, but I might try that later, if the stretching alone seems to help.

At the moment, though, I'm wondering if this didn't cause me some excess pain later in the evening.

I should probably mention that I'm not a doctor and should you try this yourself, don't blame me if something goes wrong! I encourage you to consult your own physical therapist or doctor before trying it.

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