Having Shoulder pain after that WOD? This might be why.

At Oak Point Health & Vitality Centre, we get our share of injured weekend warriors and amateur athletes -- all seeking non-surgical and non-pharmaceutical approaches like acupuncture and massage therapy.

With the explosive growth of CrossFit, we often encounter clients suffering from shoulder injuries sustained during those WODs. For the most part, they blame the workout or even CrossFit, in general. But this got us thinking…

If the WOD was dangerous, why didn’t everyone in the class get hurt? And why does only one shoulder get hurt? Clearly, there are other factors in play here.

At our Centre, we truly take a holistic approach in treating injuries. Our experience has taught us that if we just focus on the area of pain, the results will be mediocre at best. Therefore, we believe it’s not enough to treat the site of pain (the effect); we must also treat the area of dysfunction (the cause).

Back to CrossFit and all those shoulder injuries: Upon examination, we noticed that the majority of patients presenting with shoulder pain had inhibition (not firing) of the serratus anterior muscle (photo below). The serratus anterior is extremely important in shoulder health and movement. Its primary function is to stabilize the shoulder as we perform activities with our upper extremity.

When the serratus doesn’t fire, the results include:

  • Shoulder instability
  • Abnormal wear and tear
  • Faulty/dysfunctional movement patterns

Not only does this short list of outcomes help us understand how an injury can occur but also how an injury can be prevented from fully healing. This situation causes lingering pain and tells us we have a “bad” shoulder.

Good news: There’s a simple solution in order to treat this problem.

At Oak Point Health & Vitality Centre, we perform Electroacupuncture on the serratus anterior muscle to rewire the muscle and restore proper function. Electroacupuncture is a painless technique that stimulates a specific area of the muscle called the motor point.

Think of it as pressing “Cont, Alt, Delete” so the muscle restores just like a computer! We’ve found that nine out of ten times, after just a few minutes of Electroacupuncture on the motor point, the serratus anterior starts firing again.

More good news: strength as well as stability is regained.

After we restore proper function (cause), we move on to the site of pain (effect). This is when we perform acupuncture, massage therapy, and the other natural modalities we specialize in at Oak Point to speed up the recovery while reducing pain and inflammation.

Because we address both cause and effect, our patients consistently see a huge improvement in just a few treatments. Even better, many of them report doing exercises they were previously unable to do, e.g. muscle ups, head stands, and even ring dips. This is what happens when we restore proper function to the shoulder and allow it to move optimally.

What we just discussed is a very common reason for shoulder pain and injury but, of course, it is not the only one. It’s always recommended you seek out a health provider to properly diagnose and treat your specific injury.

If you or anyone you know would benefit from this article, please feel free to tag them or send them to our blog. And stay tuned for more helpful posts from your friends at Oak Point Health & Vitality Centre!


Written by Dimitri Boules LAc, LMT, CPE, CPT