Planks and shoulder question

I started doing planks three days ago, and am JUST managing 10 seconds so far. I like doing them daily but the problem is my right shoulder. I have scapular stability issues according to my doctor at my last visit and that shoulder hurts a lot doing a plank. Is it possible that planks could eventually strengthen and straighten out that area with regularity, or should I stop? The only treatment my doctor gave me for this particular issue was a four sheet thing that was info straight out of a med book and helped not at all, and told me to look up on the internet stretches for that particular issue. No follow-up currently planned or referrals for therapy, and the stretches he told me to do just made my shoulder ache and feel uncomfortable, which I'm not sure if that means I'm doing them wrong or is part and parcel of recovery. I really don't want issues down the road but on this particular matter my doctor is being a little less than helpful. Advice would be welcomed.

Replies

  • Packerjohn
    Packerjohn Posts: 4,855 Member
    Sucks your doctor didn't give you any more. Take a look at this push up plus article. You can just hold the top position as a push up position plank.

    http://www.gustrength.com/mobility:scapular-push-up-plus
  • Alisonswim46
    Alisonswim46 Posts: 208 Member
    Are you on Instagram? If so check out @moveu_official and they have several scapular exercises to try. I love these guys!
  • MichelleSilverleaf
    MichelleSilverleaf Posts: 2,028 Member
    Thank you both. I'll have a read of that article, and I am on Instagram. I'll check out that account and see how it goes :)
  • SonyaCele
    SonyaCele Posts: 2,841 Member
    i wouldn't do an exercise if it hurts. Can you do single arm planks? what are you doing planks for anyways, If its for core , there are a zillion other core exercises you can do that wont put stress on your shoulder. I dont know what your shoulder instability issue is, but if it were me, id find something else to do with my shoulder that didnt hurt. you can also try planking on your elbows
  • MichelleSilverleaf
    MichelleSilverleaf Posts: 2,028 Member
    SonyaCele wrote: »
    i wouldn't do an exercise if it hurts. Can you do single arm planks? what are you doing planks for anyways, If its for core , there are a zillion other core exercises you can do that wont put stress on your shoulder. I dont know what your shoulder instability issue is, but if it were me, id find something else to do with my shoulder that didnt hurt. you can also try planking on your elbows

    Core, back and abs (if it helps that also, I also know it's going to be a looong while before I even see them, but figure I'd start early). I wouldn't be opposed to other exercises that help with those areas. The doctor did say it was a scapular issue, carried my dog on that shoulder too long has thrown it out of whack I suppose. I do planks on my elbows right now, on a yoga mat. The pain goes from the top of the shoulder down in several inches down the back.
  • canadianlbs
    canadianlbs Posts: 5,199 Member
    i'm wary of being too prescriptive to someone out there on the internet, but fwiw i have a rogue shoulderblade too, and i think if i had to pick one single thing to know about it would be activating and strengthening my lower traps.

    i think eric cressey was the source for most of the info i've found and applied for myself. and again not prescribing for you, but if i were prescribing for myself i would say: do nothing until you're really comfortable and familiar with how a stabilized shoulderblade feels.
  • canadianlbs
    canadianlbs Posts: 5,199 Member
    edited July 2017
    i'm going to take a flyer and suggest that if you were toting a dog your levator scapula might be tight and short on that side. that definitely helped to pull my shoulderblade up - i read ALL the time and always hold the book in my left hand so groke knows what a dog would have done.

    and once it's up, it's pretty hard for any other muscles to get a fair chance to do what they're for, which is pull it back down.
  • SonyaCele
    SonyaCele Posts: 2,841 Member
    SonyaCele wrote: »
    i wouldn't do an exercise if it hurts. Can you do single arm planks? what are you doing planks for anyways, If its for core , there are a zillion other core exercises you can do that wont put stress on your shoulder. I dont know what your shoulder instability issue is, but if it were me, id find something else to do with my shoulder that didnt hurt. you can also try planking on your elbows

    Core, back and abs (if it helps that also, I also know it's going to be a looong while before I even see them, but figure I'd start early). I wouldn't be opposed to other exercises that help with those areas. The doctor did say it was a scapular issue, carried my dog on that shoulder too long has thrown it out of whack I suppose. I do planks on my elbows right now, on a yoga mat. The pain goes from the top of the shoulder down in several inches down the back.

    you dont need to do planks for your core back and abs, they probably wont even give you the benefit you are looking for if thats all you are doing. If you like that static hold, look into deadbugs or faceup planks . I think planks have become over rated because of the plank challenges, and they are something anyone can easily attempt. Sure they are good for you and better than nothing, but they are kinda on the bottom of my list of exercises to develop a strong core.
  • kzooyogi
    kzooyogi Posts: 121 Member
    I too have had a cranky shoulder blade. I thought it was a rhomboid, but during a massage, my masseuse (who is also my yoga teacher) indicated that I had a very tight erector spinae and trapezius on the side where I felt the pain. She worked out a lot of the tightness as best she could.

    My best friend, who is a physical therapist, gave me several exercises to do as a warm-up to weight lifting that focused mainly on building the shoulder stabilizing muscles (lower and middle trapezius, mid lats, and rhomboids). The biggest thing to remember with physical therapy type exercises is that it's all about the ECCENTRIC contraction (i.e. a slow release of the muscle). Those are what really help you to build strength. I did these three times per weeks with very light weights for six weeks and have felt NO pain since. I'll do my best to explain them:

    I, Y, and T lifts: With light weights (I used 3 lbs) lie prone with an exercise ball under your belly/chest and toes on the floor. Keep back of heart lifted. Starting position is with weights on the ground. Inhale lift weights to shoulder height (head of the weight pointing skyward), exhale SLOWLY lower back down to starting position. Complete 3 sets of 12 for each type of lift. I lifts are lifting the weights straight out in front of the crown of your head; Y lifts are lifting the weights out at ~45 degree angles; T lifts are lifting the weights directly out from the shoulder, ~90 degree angles.

    Seated row on cable machine: 3 sets of 12. Exhale, pull handle into chest, focusing on drawing elbows back while avoiding pinching the shoulder blades together. Inhale, SLOWLY release back to starting position.

    Standing row on cable machine: 3 sets of 12. Very similar to a seated row, except handle is above head and you pull down at a 45 degree angle.

    Scapula pushups: 3 sets of 12. Connect knees to floor, place hands under shoulders. Important to not hyper-extend your elbows, so keep a micro-bend. As you inhale, let the scapula retract (i.e. draw towards the spine), keeping arms straight the whole time. With an exhale, slowly protract the scapula (i.e. wrap them forwards towards the chest, away from the spine). You keep the arms straight the whole time, the chest will move up and down maybe 2-3" or so, and that movement comes only from retraction/protraction of the scapula. These are one of my new favorite moves, and I use them when I teach yoga classes quite often to help students build strength for chaturangas.

    Aside from that, remember that during planks, you can always drop to your knees (both, or just one) to give yourself more support. Over time, you will work you way up to being able to hold a high plank, and hopefully with no pain if you work on strengthening those stabilizers! You can also do a forearm plank, which is a plank on the elbows, which tends to reduce some of the stress on the shoulders. Same with a high plank - you can always lower to one or both knees. Whichever variation/s you choose, make sure the shoulders don't pinch the spine during your hold. Think about pressing the floor away, hollowing out the armpits, and inflating the space between your shoulder blades up like a balloon.

    I see these issues all the time in my yoga students - all it takes is a little alignment tweaking and building strength to help keep that good alignment! Best of luck! Hope your shoulder feels better soon.
  • SCoil123
    SCoil123 Posts: 2,108 Member
    I have right shoulder issues as well and love planking but worked up to it as I strengthened the muscles. I started with planks on elbows with my knees down. I did this until I could hold 1 minute without pain or trembling. Then I moved up to keeping my knees up and same thing until I could do a full minute. Once I could do that I started with the full plank with arms extended. The extended arms was putting stress on my shoulder initially which is why I did it this way. I can do up to 5 minutes planking now alternating between low planks and high planks.

    My shoulder slips out of socket and will give me issues potentially forever but I have found that building up the muscles to support the joint has made it more stable over time.
  • MichelleSilverleaf
    MichelleSilverleaf Posts: 2,028 Member
    I'm agreeing with the posters telling you that if it hurts your shoulder, don't do it. Your doctor needs to refer you to a physical therapist or give you exercises to strengthen it, but that one doesn't sound like it's going to do it and you could easily injure it further.

    Yeah I have stopped, feels like a bummer for me because I did genuinely enjoy them. I don't want to further injure it but I think I will go back to the doctor and push for a recommendation. It's kind of weird that he had no problem recommending me to a dietician over my high blood sugar, but was less enthusiastic about this.
  • MichelleSilverleaf
    MichelleSilverleaf Posts: 2,028 Member
    SonyaCele wrote: »
    you dont need to do planks for your core back and abs, they probably wont even give you the benefit you are looking for if thats all you are doing. If you like that static hold, look into deadbugs or faceup planks . I think planks have become over rated because of the plank challenges, and they are something anyone can easily attempt. Sure they are good for you and better than nothing, but they are kinda on the bottom of my list of exercises to develop a strong core.

    I'll look into those. My core is pretty weak and I end up with back aches a lot if I do too much, most often down where the sciatic nerves are, and I'd like to alleviate that. So anything that can help strengthen the back and core that doesn't involve gym membership I'm all for trying (nothing against gyms, they're just something I can't really stick to and can't afford the membership anyway).