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Rotator Cuff Syndrome treated with Yoga

by Marcia Mueller

Loren Fishman, MD specializes in physical medicine and is a long time practitioner or yoga.  He injured his rotator cuff to the extent that he couldn't lift his arm above his shoulder and while waiting for surgery thought he would do a little yoga.  One of the poses he did was a head stand.  Much to his surprise when he got up from the head stand he could move his arm above his head.  He went to his office and had one of his colleages do some muscle testing while he did the shoulder stand.  What they found out was that the subscapularis muscle (the one on the under side of the shoulder blade), the rhomboids (between the shoulder blades) the serratus anterior (on the ribs) and the pectoralis muscles (upper chest) were activated with the head stand and stayed more active immediatley after.

One thing led to another and he decided to a study.  Since he knew that he couldn't have just anyone do head stands he first had to come up with a modified version that could be done safely.  I've had a couple of my patients try his modified poses and the patients have experienced pain relief and increased range of motion.