Attention tennis players, swimmers, women who carry heavy bags: If you've got shoulder pain, there's an easy remedy to help keep you out of the operating room. Yoga enthusiast Loren M. Fishman, M.D., an assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine at Columbia University in New York City, says doing headstands may be the cure for rotator-cuff injuries.
The Upside of a Personal Injury
When Fishman alleviated his own pain by inverting, he was inspired to study the move's effectiveness. Forty-nine patients were taught a headstand move with the hands clasped behind the head in a V shape. They did it -- or a modification -- for 30 seconds just one time in his office. For most of them, range of motion improved significantly more than what's typically achieved by physical therapy or surgery, and pain decreased by an average of 82 percent. Fishman believes the inversion stimulates healthy shoulder muscles surrounding the torn one, allowing them to take over.
Headstand seems too challenging? Beginner variations work just as well. Try placing your legs on a chair with your forearms on the floor in a V position. Even easier: Place forearms on the wall and lean forward.
A New Perspective
Other studies support a nonsurgical approach, showing that six weeks of acupuncture or soft-tissue massage can help ease pain and improve function. If there's a possibility of shoulder surgery or rehab in your future, ask your doctor about these gentler options.
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