View Full Version : Very, very, very tense shoulder.

Mr E
-13th March 2011, 13:03
My shoulder has been fairly achey for the last two months. I'm not in chronic pain but It's definatley affecting the way I fence.

Noticeable change is my Trapezius (the 'tube' like muscle from my neck across my shoulder, right?) is very tense in comparison to my left trap. Not like a rock but very tense.

I also think it's the Scalenes? (infront of shoulder/low neck) that ache.

I have been to the local GP but 'just take some ibuprofen or any inflammatory' doesn't really seem a good solution.

I have read all sorts on the net, asked the First aid chap at the Mersyside Open even; it could be a trapped nerve? They can be there for a long time or a short time apparently.

I just want it gone - without throwing money at someone who will massage me for an hour and say "see you next week". I am currently aiming for selection and getting my ranking up's not going to be as easy as I'd like it to be with this hindering me.

Any input is welcome. Also if this is in the wrong section. Sorry in advance.

-14th March 2011, 10:04
Obviously I am in no way qualified to answer this.. however from my own experience..
Are you new to fencing? If so you are probably gripping too tight and tensing your shoulder too much. Just relaxing should help the issue.
Otherwise get a thera cane.. you can then massage yourself whenever you need. Costs about as much as one physio session.
However that is just my own experience, yours could be entirely different.

-14th March 2011, 14:09
Hi Mr E,

Get professional input. Avoid online/virtual consultations because they can potentially lead to diagnostic errors/delays in appropriate treatment/chronicity. As you've already had input from your GP, you should see a musculoskeletal practitioner such as an osteopath or a physiotherapist (as an osteopath, I would obviously be biased...). If you can't afford private care, ask your GP to refer you to, for example, a physio working within a NHS setting. Your 'ache' can be caused by, for example, a number of anatomical structures. It can be caused by the lower cervical spine (neck) joints (typically refer pain to the upper trapezius region), shoulder itself, nerves/nerve roots etc. The diagnosis and treatment should be based on a thorough medical history and clinical examination. Apart from fencing, several factors need to be taken into account. For example, are you a student or have a sedentary job etc? I wouldn't attempt an online differential diagnosis.


-14th March 2011, 15:01

I would definitely seek more qualified advice. As jesteves says, either an Osteo or Physio. I would personally from experience (and I'm not a doctor, etc, nor connected with any medical practices etc) choose an Osteo.


Mr E
-15th March 2011, 14:25
Thanks guys for the speedy replies.

@Cyrano - I've been Fencing for 10 years (I'm only 20, a baby) aiming for selection. So I can safely say it's nothing technique wise such as over gripping, tensing, attacks with shoulder - not hand etc.

I also coach now however so I don't know If ontop of my personal training; I may have overdone it. The pain seems too acute for simply overdoing it though. I guess I'll get an answer via appropriate the proffesionals.

I'll see about my GP referring me to a specialist. If he tries to throw me aside with the ole' "take some paracetamol" jabber I'll have to contact a Physio etc. Hopefully I'll be fixed soon!

-16th March 2011, 08:53
I hope you get it sorted and good luck with selection.

S&C Guy
-16th March 2011, 12:49
Hey there,

Right first and foremost its always worth getting a physio/osteopath to look at it. Someone qualified to diagnose. I have worked as a Sports Masseur for many years alongside my S&C work for some big teams and athletes including international sides and as much as a massage sounds like what you need, it is better to get that confirmed first. Any Masseur who tries to diagnose your injury is a bad masseur and should be ignored. G.P's are not a great option either (sorry any gp's out there!) They know more about medicine, illness etc than most people but injuries and being fit to play a high level of sport is another matter entirely!!! Its really not worth the time for them to make some guesses and then refer you out.

Having said all of that a key stretch for fencers in that area is to (explanation is to stretch your right trap);

-Put your right hand behind you into the small of your back.
-Tilt your head to the left shoulder, only so there is a light stretch
-If more is needed use your left hand to add some pressure to your head

This can be uncomfortable and cause a slight headache whilst doing it for some people because the muscle connects in the back of the skull so go easy. Little and often with stretching is miles better than overdoing it.
Also look into some Self Myofascial Relief (SMR). On youtube there are hundreds of videos on this so search around. You can use a tennis ball or a rolling pin type implement called The Stick or The Tiger Tail. For your traps you really need a partner to help with this but it is a cheap option to get some release there.

Finally, look up activation exercises for the Lower and Mid-Traps. When your Upper Traps (the bit by your neck and shoulders) are overactive they get tired and tight, you need to release them off and teach the mid and lower traps to share the workload. This will help keep your shoulders healthy. An S&C coach in America called Mike Robertson has a lot of great info on this stuff so look him up!

Good luck, Rhys