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I've got a combination of neck and shoulder injuries on my left side. Neck from being spiked, shoulder from an americana and a west point ride suplex. I've definitely got weakness in my rotator cuff. I intend to get that strengthened before I go back to training tachiwaza, but since once a shoulder is injured, it's always a bit more injury prone, I'm figuring a brace would be a good idea. Does anyone have a recommendation for one that would be good in terms of providing a bit of extra support while still allowing a good range of motion and also not having anything hard or exposed velcro that would make it unsuitable for Judo?

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3 Answers 3

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I have a shoulder brace recommendation, but before I give it, I will explain why I don't think it's going to do what you want it to as far as the muscles are concerned.

Your stated injury is in the SITS muscles which are what comprise the rotator cuff. Only one of the muscles actually produces motion of the limb in a plane, the primary function of these muscles is rotation of the arm. The brace is going to do nothing to help that, and may actually make the muscles work harder as they have to rotate the limb against a resistance.

Where the brace helps, is preventing over stretching and extreme motion, which will protect the ligaments in the shoulder, and to some extent the muscles from tears.

The shoulder is barely even a joint, and is the most vulnerable joint in the body simply because the structure has to allow such a wide variation of movements. This means any injury is going to really make the structure vulnerable to more injury.

I will second @trevoke on the don't work it until healed, and I know you said you will rehab it first, which is good. Once it's fully rehabbed, I would recommend the SB04 shoulder brace by EVS sports : http://evs-sports.com/store/product.php?productid=17697

It bases the support going across the body as well as directly down to a strap that goes around the entire chest. It includes an impact protection plate over the shoulder, and is very adjustable. While nothing will fully protect (Especially in an arm intensive art such as judo), this is one of the best I've seen in use. I would get a lightweight close fitting tech tee to wear under it to prevent chafing, though.

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Thanks. I hadn't considered the point about increasing resistance to rotation, that's something I'll be discussing with physio and chiro to see where the risks and benefits lie for my specific situation. The impact protection plate also looks good for helping avoid a seperated shoulder from the suplex (although obviously I'll be doing my best to avoid letting anyone WPR me from behind). –  Robin Ashe Jul 12 '12 at 21:54
    
It wouldn't be much resistance, but there will be some. and X2 on not getting wpr suplexed from behind. :D –  JohnP Jul 12 '12 at 21:56

I have no shoulder brace recommendation.

My recommendation is to stop all the practice that requires the use of that part of your body and go to rehab instead. I'd recommend soft movements like taichi or chi kung because of their particular health-building properties, if you want to heal faster (though it requires finding a skilled teacher).

Again - stop practicing entirely. Would you rather be out for a few weeks to a few months while this heals, or potentially be out for years or a lifetime if an accident happens? An accident, by the way, could be you lifting your arm the wrong way, or it could be you taking a bad fall for whatever reason.. Too many ways to damage yourself.

Take care of your body. You only have the one.

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I did state in the question that I intended to have it strengthened first. The brace isn't for weak muscles, it would be for the ligaments, which can't be rehabbed. –  Robin Ashe Jul 12 '12 at 4:01
    
Ligaments do heal: ehow.com/how_5251174_heal-ligaments.html –  Trevoke Jul 12 '12 at 13:19
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Ligaments heal, but extremely slowly due to the minimal blood flow to the relatively static portions of the body. Prolotherapy (a therapy consisting of injecting blood into the area to aid regeneration) can be quite successful in helping torn and damaged ligaments heal. –  stslavik Jul 12 '12 at 16:14

I'm with Trevoke on this one. Take it form a judoka who is a mess of never properly healed injuries, strains, and arthritis . FIX IT FIRST! Don't train until you get the all clear from a GOOD physio therapist and it's 100%. I might not personally recommend tai chi because i've never done it. But some yoga and perhaps running or something like that to keep your cardio up in the mean time.

IF you insist on training anyway: Put your arm inside your gi. and tie it to your body. Do judo one armed then you can't make a bigger mess of it. You can't do everything this way, but it'll help keep you active, and you can work foot work drills, and some uchi komis and the like.

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Muscles can be fully recovered (ie strengthened), but once ligaments are stretched, they're stretched. I might be able to look into prolotherapy as was mentioned before, but that depends on a doctor actually thinking it's necessary. Given that, I'm looking at no more than 95% recovery, and stretched ligaments are always more likely to allow a joint dislocation in the future. Hence, why I was investigating shoulder braces. –  Robin Ashe Jul 23 '12 at 18:04

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