Conductors need to take care of their shoulders!

Here was the question from a conductor colleague:

Many years of attritional use have taken their toll on my right shoulder. After surgery, acupuncture and physiotherapy, I'm left with little improvement.
My physiotherapist is now recommending that I try Rocktape (kinesthesia tape), which is a fairly recent entrant into the marketplace for athletes. I would be grateful if anyone who has experience of this type of product would share their opinions.
Thank you.

Here was my answer:

Use it!

 I am a Choral Music Educator, former competitive gymnast, trainer of gymnasts and certified group fitness trainer as well. I have taped up many of my athletes over the years to help them get through competitions, and this tape is of great help. Having damaged my own shoulders during my competitive career, I have done physical therapy on several occasions to help my shoulder last longer. Each time I go ask for a prescription for Physical Therapy, I am investing in the long-term use of my shoulders. I am 50 years old, and I have done 3 rounds of PT for my shoulder since I was 28 years old. Each time, it gets better for a period of years. Ultimately, I will probably have to have rotator-cuff surgery, but until then, I am doing lots of things to delay surgery. Once we cut, we weaken the area in many ways...even if it's arthroscopic.

 Here are some suggestions for you: 1) Ice religiously. Get an ice pack like this one:

Link to Shoulder Ice Pack

Keep it in your freezer all the time. Ice it day and night or whenever you are just sitting. Ice is under-used by most people who have injuries largely because it is inconvenient to sit with an ice-pack and hold it on the shoulder. The ice pack above is designed for the shoulder and makes it really easy to sit and ice. In fact, I am using one right now as I type this! Icing religiously several times per day for 10 minutes each time will help you very much. Don't ice it before you are going to conduct.

2) Stay on top of the physical therapy exercises you did with your physical therapist. Do them several times a week to re-train your muscles to help your shoulder function differently. If you stop doing the exercises, your body just goes right back to what got it there in the first place.

3) Before you are going to conduct, make sure the shoulder is warm. You can place a warm pack on it. Also, and more importantly, get your body moving to increase blood flow for several minutes...especially in the AM...and then stretch it using some of the stretches you've learned in PT.

We have to approach the care of your shoulders in the same way we approach the study of music. We've only got two shoulders, and they need to last us a lifetime!

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