Wrestling and Shoulder Joint Instability
Dec. 5, 2004
Mark Boatright, ATC-L, M.A.T.
The sport of wrestling puts the body in many different planes and positions. When a joint is subjected to extreme ranges of motion, tissue can become traumatized and injured. Instabilities can occur when joints are forced beyond their normal ranges. Traumatic instabilities occur when the joints are forced beyond their normal range of motion. Congenital instabilities are genetic in nature and pose a problem among athletic populations that need stability to permit a full range of joint motion. In the athletic population, the approach to the problem can vary due to cause of the instability. Usually in the sport of wrestling, joint instabilities manifest themselves within the shoulder joint.
Traumatic Instability of the Shoulder Joint
Traumatic instabilities of the shoulder are usually caused due to injury to the shoulder joint such as shoulder dislocation, history of repetitive shoulder subluxations and repetitive stress to the shoulder joint in general.
The short term solution is rehabilitation exercise to the muscles of the shoulder girdle. This approach usually does not solve the problem but sometimes makes the situation more tolerable. The long term approach is to surgically stabilize the tissue and reduce the volume of tissue in the joint capsule. Surgically, the procedures include open procedure, arthroscopic procedure, thermal procedure and capsular plication procedure. The surgical procedures all require rehabilitation time. Rehabilitation consists of tissue healing, remodeling, range of motion, strength and functional progression. Return to activities is dependent upon surgical procedure, healing constraints and complications that may be involved in the athlete's rehabilitation process.
Congenital Instability of the Shoulder Joint
Unlike traumatic instabilities of the shoulder joint where injury is the cause, congenital instabilities are issues associated with genetics. Congenital instabilities are usually manifested in the knee, shoulder, elbow and thumb joints. This kind of instability presents a complicated problem for the wrestling athlete. The solution for the problem is not always as easily managed as traumatic instability. Surgery for congenital instability does not seem to have the same success rate as traumatic instability. Rehabilitation is the course of action usually taken to help restore stability to the shoulder joint. Rehabilitation consists of exercise for the secondary movers and stabilizers of the shoulder joint. Functional exercises are also good sources of secondary strength and balance. When the athlete has good functional strength and no perceived pain or instability, he can return to activity but must maintain a strength program for the muscles of the shoulder girdle.
Wrestlers' bodies are put into many vulnerable positions.