I have suffered from shoulder and neck pain since my freshman year in college. In high school, I dedicated a lot of my time and effort to building my body. I was primarily concerned with looking as aesthetically good as I could. I was never taught how to properly lift weights nor was I interested, I would just lift to feel the pump, eat a bunch of food and get huge. Over time, I gained a lot of strength and size but by dumbbell pressing 100 lbs above my head with shit form. At this point, I had just graduated high school and I was about to go to college, so I wanted to look as jacked up as possible. Once I got to college, I met a buddy and we would workout everyday together. We would always compete to see who could lift more & every session we would push ourselves to our limits. Eventually, I began to feel a sharp pain in the back of my shoulder, but I ignored it. As time went on, my shoulder pain became unbearable and I was forced to quit the weights.
I was so addicted to working out, I would just go to the gym and do cardio for 45 minutes to an hour since I couldn’t lift. Because of all the cardio, I soon lost all of my muscle and became extremely lean, almost skinny. People would always comment on how small I had gotten, and seeing old friends was never fun because they would point out my loss of muscle. My ego was extremely identified with that muscular, jock guy so this was an extremely depressing time for me. My identity was changing and I had to deconstruct my ego. I began physical therapy and stretching but neither seemed to be working. This went on for about three years; I would take several weeks to months off of lifting and then try lifting weights again only to flare my shoulder up. My shoulder was becoming so weak, I could see muscle atrophy on my right arm and I began experiencing extreme neck pain due to compensation. I could not take it anymore, so I finally went to the doctor. I had gone to the doctor already but he deterred me to physical therapy before considering surgery.
I went to see my orthopedic surgeon and he decided it was a good idea to go for the surgery. The MRI did not show a visible tear but he suspected that my labrum was torn. Since the labrum is such a thin tissue it is difficult to see tears without dye. So, I had surgery and hoped for the best. Fast forward to a year later, I did not feel much better. Certain aspects of my injury felt better, but my neck pain was still there and I still could not lift weights without pain/discomfort. It was at this point I started to take up yoga. I was tired of leaving my personal pain and health in the hands of others. So I began practicing yoga regularly, taking classes and following along to YouTube videos. On top of what I was learning while studying Neuroscience in school, I was gaining an entirely new perspective and understanding about the body. Around this time, I also stumbled upon Ido Portal, a movement expert with a compelling philosophy. I was then exposed to bioenergetics which is a form therapy to free physical and psychological blockages of energy. That would have sounded woo woo to me in the years prior but after experiencing these limitations, my mind was open to anything.
I began to practice yoga, various hanging positions/movements (from Ido Portal) and bioenergetic exercises. I soon realized that my shoulder joint itself was not the problem. It was my breathing mechanics and lack of thoracic spine mobility. Thru these practices, I could feel the blockage in my body that was hindering my shoulder from moving properly. In yoga and Chinese medicine, energy is referred to as prana or chi, respectively. It is thought that blockages of energy flow are the culprit for chronic physical & mental impairments. So I began practicing specific movements and deep breathing exercises to mobilize the target area. By doing so I could literally feel this blockage clearing up. From a neurological perspective, when our breathing mechanics become impaired, it effects our posture/structure of our body. When our posture and/or structure of our body is thrown off, certain nerves may become impinged or blocked causing an unwanted interference in the communication between the brain and muscle. Our nervous system runs off of electricity, so when that nerve is blocked, electricity (energy) cannot flow properly and thus certain muscles may not fire appropriately. This will lead to over compensation by other muscles which is what will cause pain, damage and more problems down the road. Thru these mind/body practices I was able to correct my breathing mechanics, improve my joint mobility/strength, correct my posture & restructure my body from the inside out. I practice these movements and breathing techniques in the morning when I am fasted, so I can breathe deeply into my belly, twist & detox as much as possible. As of now, my shoulder has never felt better, my neck pain is completely gone and I have gained a new understanding of my body. I am confident that thru diligent practice, we are able to heal and correct injuries & ailments that are a product of our lifestyle and habits.