Re-introducing my YouTube Channel through a story about self-improvement
Navigating Joint Pain and Integrating Lessons into My Professional Path
Welcome back to Common Sense Medicine! This post may differ from others, as I'm reintroducing my YouTube channel, which primarily focuses on self-improvement. I recently viewed a Twitter video that juxtaposed "Chad Health" with "Trad Health." This comparison highlights the contrast between cutting-edge, scientifically-supported health concepts—like HealthTech, AgeTech, and healthcare verticals, which I discuss in my podcast-style posts—and traditional health wisdom, such as your grandma's advice on eating well and practicing yoga, representing the broader wellness industry.
I plan to write more about the self-improvement aspect, in addition to the HealthTech component of my newsletter. I believe Common Sense Medicine benefits from incorporating both perspectives, encompassing both Trad Health and Chad Health. Enjoy this inaugural post where I use "Chad Health" tools to rehabilitate my shoulder.
Last week, after Christmas, I woke up to a surprising pain in my shoulder. It wasn't a sprain, but more of a tweak. This was concerning, especially since I was on vacation and had embarked on a life overhaul journey since September 2023. I had been eating better, exercising daily, and meticulously managing my time to achieve my 2024 goals.
This injury felt like a major setback. It wasn't severe—perhaps a 4 out of 10 in terms of pain, with 10 being the worst I've ever experienced—but it limited my range of motion. I was determined to rehabilitate it promptly to avoid ending up in a doctor's office facing treatments like steroid injections or a diagnosis of a frozen shoulder.
As an athlete, not a medical professional, I wanted to confirm it was a mere tweak and not something more serious. My approach to rehabbing a joint is usually experimental yet moderately scientific; I prefer avoiding doctor visits to test what works on my own instead of resorting to medications or injections first. However, after returning from vacation (which wasn't ideal as I hadn't started rehabilitating it), I found myself falling into a pattern of watching random YouTube videos, eating poorly, and veering off my set goals. This was particularly frustrating after a gym visit where I couldn't lift my usual weights without pain, leading me to momentarily give up and ponder how this injury was derailing my hard-earned habits.
Despite these challenges, I'm making significant progress in my rehab and managed to return to the gym as of January 5th. This experience has taught me several lessons, which I'm eager to share in an upcoming post. Additionally, I plan to enhance my posts with visuals, so keep an eye out for accompanying videos and don't forget to subscribe to the YouTube channel!
Understanding the Mindset
The Psychological Aspect:
I realized that my lack of focus was due to the fact that exercising is a keystone habit for me. Without it, other aspects of my life tend to unravel. Often, it's tempting to maintain momentum by pushing through pain. Alternatively, like in my case, there's a complete halt to all physical activity. However, my approach is to dive in headfirst, favoring speed over distance.
When I start exercising, I tend to go all in, preferring speed to endurance. This approach often leads to burnout and makes the concept of delayed gratification even more challenging. It's a bit cliché, but moderation truly is key. I aim to push myself to 80% of my perceived capacity, which allows for consistent activity rather than an unsustainable all-out effort for just two weeks. Tactically, as I rehabilitate my shoulder, this means gradually returning to lifting and focusing on walking for cardio. The winter weather has been a deterrent for gym visits, so I need to set a lower threshold to ensure I go regularly.
Evaluating Potential Causes beyond the Shoulder Joint
The anatomy of the shoulder, including its bones, joints, and muscles, is undeniably a key focus in addressing shoulder pain. It's crucial to recognize, however, that the shoulder does not function in isolation. Adjacent areas, such as the trapezius muscles (traps), scapular (shoulder blade) mobility, and latissimus dorsi muscles (lats), significantly contribute to shoulder functionality and can be sources of discomfort or pain.
What does this mean for you? While I'm not suggesting that all my readers need to learn detailed anatomy to heal their shoulder, I do believe there's a notable difference between those who actively seek to understand how something works and those who passively absorb information. A little learning with each injury can lead to a surprising compounding of knowledge.
For example, the traps, which extend from the neck to the mid-back, support both the shoulder and neck. Tightness or weakness in this area can result in imbalances and strain on the shoulder joint. Scapular mobility is vital for a wide range of shoulder movements; limited mobility in the scapula can increase stress on the shoulder joint, potentially causing pain or injury. The lats, large muscles in the back, play a role in various shoulder movements. Tight or weak lats can impact shoulder mechanics and contribute to discomfort.
Beyond musculoskeletal factors, environmental elements are also crucial for shoulder health:
Hydration is essential for joint lubrication and muscle function. Dehydration can cause muscle cramps and increased stiffness, which may exacerbate shoulder pain.
Sleep is another critical aspect; the body undergoes most of its repair processes during rest. Poor sleep can impede recovery from shoulder injuries or strain.
Additionally, poor technique can place excessive stress on the shoulder joint and surrounding muscles, leading to pain and injury.
Strategies for Pain Management: Distraction Techniques
As I healed, I employed several methods to keep the pain at bay. Firstly, I focused on maintaining mobility rather than fixating on the pain. Simple techniques such as using a lacrosse ball for pressure application and specific stretches proved highly effective.
Practical Tools for Relief:
Lacrosse Ball & Foam Roller: These tools help increase mobility and target pain points. I typically use them before starting exercise. One of my resolutions is to stretch daily, and they are great for addressing problem areas like my healing shoulder.
Resistance Bands: I follow Kelly Starrett's contract-relax stretching method with these. It's an effective way to distract your mind from the reach-and-hold burn, which mostly focuses on lengthening the muscle rather than preparing it for exercise. While not strictly evidence-based ("Chad Health" as it's known), I believe resistance bands are beneficial for both stretching and strength training.
VooDoo Floss: This involves using compression to enhance blood flow and reduce tissue hypoxia. There's no need to buy Kelly Starrett’s brand; more affordable options are available on Amazon. This technique is based on the blood flow restriction ROM exercises from Kelly Starrett’s The Ready State, which you can likely find on YouTube.
TENS Device: This device is used for muscular engagement, though its effectiveness is debated. I used it for about a week after my injury and found it helped increase my range of motion, but its overall utility is still uncertain. It's worth discussing with your doctor, especially if your health plan covers it.
Percussion Devices: Tools like Theraguns or heated showers can improve blood flow and range of motion. I discuss these in my video, but they are quite expensive, and I don’t personally own one. They are available on Amazon for around $130. If budget is a concern, it's better to focus on more affordable options like the Lacrosse Ball and Foam Roller.
Restoring Muscle Function
Deep stretching routines, arm and scapular mobility circles, Turkish get-ups, and focused mobility exercises are beneficial. One thing that I would recommend if you want to really make a personalized routine which you can stick to: (1) gather a lot of mobility routines (through YouTube, blog posts, PDFs, and more) and (2) put it all into ChatGPT or another AI tool and summarize them while giving them this prompt:
Imagine you are a physical trainer and your client is trying to rehabilitate from an injury. Provide a step-by-step X min routine (based on your timing for rehab) which can help me rehabilitate X joint (I put shoulder) using the information that I will paste below. I will provide edits and tweaks when necessary, but make sure to list the exercise and if there is a link provided for illustration, please link the statements and exercises you have found.
I think that would be a great start which you can then bring to a physical therapist and ask their ideas for tweaking it. I also think that it would be a great start to do by yourself through YouTube videos to make sure that you’re performing them properly.
Preventing Future Injuries
After undergoing this process, I've realized that incorporating daily shoulder mobility warm-ups is essential to prevent shoulder injuries. During my vacation, I stopped exercising, and I've noticed how daily movement contributes significantly to our ability to run, jump, and generally feel better. There's extensive literature on why we aren't healthy and what improvements we could make. I believe the key lies in a combination of "Chad Health" practices, such as eating healthy and staying active, along with bio-optimization strategies, including biohacking and, to an extent, traditional healthcare with specialist medications for various issues.
As always, I will focus on staying active, aiming for 8,000-10,000 steps daily to maintain joint range of motion and ensure blood flow to the joint. Committing to these practices and continually learning is my strategy to prevent future joint pain.
Injuries necessitate a mix of understanding, suitable tools, and consistent practice. Remember, common sense and active recovery are your allies. For more insights, check out the video linked in this post.
Important Notice: Please remember, if you're dealing with severe pain, it's crucial to consult a healthcare specialist. The content of this article is not intended as medical advice but rather as a personal guide based on my own experiences. This podcast is meant for general informational purposes only and should not be seen as professional medical, nursing, or any other type of healthcare service. It does not offer medical advice, and listening to this podcast does not establish a doctor-patient relationship.
The use of the information provided here, and any materials linked to this podcast, is at the listener's own risk. The content shared in this podcast should not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Listeners are advised not to ignore or delay seeking medical advice for any health condition they may have and are encouraged to seek the assistance of their healthcare providers for any such concerns.
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