The Shoulder Bone’s Connected to the…

Dutch researchers have discovered that those playing volleyball and baseball could be at a higher risk for arterial aneurysm, a condition caused by dangerous bulges in a blood vessel wall.

As with a lot of studies that come out, I’m blown away by how much the researchers focus on the condition itself, rather than the ultimate cause. According to the study, volleyball and baseball are to blame as researchers found, “The overhead reaching movement (that volleyball players perform when serving and spiking the ball and baseball players do when throwing) squeezes the artery ‘like a tube of toothpaste.'”

Um…sorry, but I have to disagree with part of what they have said. I don’t believe the motion itself is causing this problem. If the overhead reaching motion is to blame, every volleyball and baseball player should have the exact same symptoms. You and I would have the exact same symptoms. After all, we reach overhead all the time. We wave to our friend who is across the room, reach for things on the top shelf, and high-five each other all the time. Don’t get me wrong, the motions that the athletes in this study perform on a daily basis are obviously MUCH more forceful than what you and I do on a daily basis. Of COURSE they are generating much more torque on their shoulder and using more energy when spiking a volleyball and throwing a baseball, but again, if the activity is to blame, every athlete in those sports should be dealing with the same symptoms…but they aren’t. And, what about other sports? Shouldn’t Michael Phelps, Ryan Lotche and other swimmers be on this list if the “overhead reaching movement” is to blame?

I do believe that the repetitive nature of those motions–and the force under which they are performed–can, over time, impact the shoulder. Especially when the shoulder is out of alignment. The study’s lead author, Daan van de Pol, made mention that there might be other factors at play that are causing arterial aneurysm symptoms such as cold, blue, or pale fingers among players:

The researchers did not follow up with survey participants to determine the exact cause of their symptoms, and van de Pol said it’s possible they might not be due to a vascular problem.

“We know one in four athletes have these complaints. They could have nothing like vascular injury, and also players without symptoms could have vascular injury,” he said.

The group is doing follow-up research to see how well their survey actually identifies people with blood clots caused by a vascular problem.

I would be very interested in seeing a follow-up study. More than anything, I’m interested to see the shoulder position of those impacted by this condition. As with any symptom, we have to stay focused on the position, not the condition.

When symptoms arise, whether they’re pain symptoms or circulatory symptoms as in this study, we have to remember that that’s the only way the body has to communicate with us. The body is simply trying to tell us that something isn’t quite right. For some of you, your symptom is back pain. For those in this study, their symptoms line up with those who suffer from arterial aneurysm. The bottom line is that regardless of the symptom, it’s crucial we get to the root cause. If you’re ready to get to the root cause of your shoulder symptoms, download these 4 Free E-cises to get started! Contact Egoscue Nashville with other questions by emailing or by calling 615.771.8556.

QUESTION: Are there certain things you’ve been told about your symptom(s) that just aren’t adding up to you?