Shoulder Blade Circles (CARs) for neck pain, back pain or shoulder pain

Shoulder blade scapular circles/carsThe shoulder blades or scapulae have muscles that extend to the neck, thoracic spine, ribs and shoulder.  The shoulder blades, therefore, can influence these other regions. Having control/mobility over the scapula would thus be a potential area to work on if you are having problems in these other areas.

I often have my athletes and my desk athlete’s perform scapular circles if they have any problems in these regions. They are easy to do and can be done anywhere.

Shoulder blade / scapular circles (CARs)

Shoulder blade circles/scapular circles (CARs) can and should be performed with the arms in any position.

To show the movement of the shoulder blade I will perform this movement, in the video, with my arms out in front of me. I will only move one arm so you can see how much the shoulder blade contributes to the movement. Keep in mind you can perform this exercise with both shoulders simultaneously.

I often start my athletes off with their hands resting on their laps. This tends to be the easiest way to start. As they get more accustom to controlling the movement of the shoulder blade the arm can be placed in different positions.

start by pulling the shoulder blades together. Once you’ve hit your max then keep the shoulder blades and raise them up as high as you can. Once you have reached your max then round/reach the shoulder blades forward as far as you can, keeping the should blades up. then when you reach the end point keep it there and drop the shoulder blade down.

Perform this movement slowly.

Take about 30 to 60 seconds to complete one circle.

Dr Notley

 

Quadruped Hip Circles (CARS)

This is another one my exercises that I give to my athletes/patients in the controlled articular rotations (CARs) category. The training method and acronym is popularized by Dr Andreo Spina. It was taught to me at a Functional Range Conditioning course in Winnipeg.  I call them “circles” to my patients because it’s easier for them to understand.  What I like about CARs is that they are easy, yet challenging, and expose to my athletes areas of mobility that they may be lacking in.

The intent of this exercise is to challenge the hip at its end ranges. The end range of motion is commonly the weakest area. This helps us to strengthen this region and also helps to keep our hips joint healthy through all ranges of motion.

Unlike stretching, which passively improves the  range of motion, this movement makes the muscles work at the end range of motion.

Hip Circles in Quadruped (CARS)


Hip Circles can be performed on their own or, ideally, at the end of a stretching session.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Start in a quadruped position, on all fours, lift the knee up to your chest limiting the amount of rounding of the lower back.
  2. Keep the knee up and move the knee to the outside as far as possible, keeping the pelvis horizontal.
  3. Keep the knee there and rotate the hip inwards attempting to lift the foot higher than the knee. Try not to hike the pelvis up during this point in the exercise
  4. keep the leg up and bring it back behind you. Try not to over arch the back at this point in the exercise.
  5. Return to the start.
  6. This can also be performed in the reverse order

To really challenge yourself perform one repetition for 30 to 60 seconds

Dr Notley

If you are having pain or you are not moving well and want to move better make an appointment

 

Standing hip circles (CARS)

This exercise is part of a type of exercise called controlled articular rotations (CARs). The training method and acronym is popularized by Dr Andreo Spina. It was taught to me at a Functional Range Conditioning course in Winnipeg.  I call them “circles” to my patients because it’s easier for them to understand.  What I like about CARs is that they are easy, yet challenging, and my athletes/patients like to do them.

The intent of this exercise is to challenge the hip at its end ranges. The end range of motion is commonly the weakest area. This helps us to strengthen this region and also helps to keep our hips joint healthy through all ranges of motion.

Unlike stretching, which passively improves the  range of motion, this movement makes the muscles work at the end range of motion.

Standing hip Circles (CARS)

Standing hip CARs can be performed on their own or, ideally, at the end of a stretching session.

This exercise can be performed with a pole, stick, or just balancing on one leg. Using a pole helps you if you have balance issues.  If you can stand on one leg but with movement you struggle a bit, the stick will add a little bit of support to help you perform the exercise. As you get better, you can work at balancing on one leg while performing the exercise.

  1. Lift the knee up as high as you can without rounding the lower back.
  2. Keep the knee up and move the knee to the outside.
  3. Keep the knee there and rotate the hip inwards. The foot comes up to be inline with the knee. Try not to hike the pelvis up during this point in the exercise
  4. keep the leg up and bring it back behind you. Try not to over arch the back at this point in the exercise.
  5. Return to the start.
  6. This can also be performed in the reverse order

To really challenge yourself perform one repetition for 30 to 60 seconds

Dr Notley

If you are having pain or you are not moving well and want to move better make an appointment

 

Exercise: Seated Thoracic Extensions

The mid back is often a problem that I see when treating my athletes. Living in a forward slouched posture leads to the spine rounding forward. This problem can often be seen in those with neck pain and shoulder pain.

If you are dealing with pain in between the shoulder blades, shoulders or neck this might be something I would give to you to perform.

Research: Chronic Spinal Pain comparing medication, acupuncture and spinal manipulation

As a Chiropractor and Athletic Therapist I treat a lot of backs and necks.  Approximately 80% of the population will have back pain in their lifetime. Between 6 and 22% of people have chronic neck pain. Four to 10% of people will experience chronic back pain.

Millions of dollars are spend caring for people with chronic spinal pain.  For neck pain, in Australia, the direct cost of medical examinations and therapies is $94 million and for lower back pain it is $390 million.  This is a huge expense on our society and also a big physical, psychological burden on those suffering with chronic pain.

People grasp at any therapy that promises them relief.  Research is working on figuring out what method is better. Take the time to read the infographic but here are the highlights of their findings.

Results

The highest proportion of early (asymptomatic status) recovery was found for manipulation (27.3%), followed by acupuncture (9.4%) and medication (5%). Manipulation achieved the best overall results for functional impairment. However, on the VAS (pain rated on a scale of 0 to 10) for neck pain, acupuncture showed a better result than manipulation (50% vs 42%).

Conclusion

Spinal manipulation, which can be the only form of a care by a chiropractor or a part care, shows to improve function and pain in those with chronic back pain.  The paper also indicates that it is not the only form.  Acupuncture, another form of care that I provide also shows to benefit chronic back pain

Giles LGF, Muller R. Chronic spinal pain: a randomized clinical trial comparing medication, acupuncture, and spinal manipulation. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2003;28(14):1490-502; discussion 1502-3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12865832.