Dislocating shoulder when punching - why it happens

JowGaWolf

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Dislocating a shoulder when punching was crazy to me until last night during practice when I threw my shoulder out. It wasn't a full or even partial dislocation but it was enough to help me understand the mechanics of such an injury and why one of the students is complaining of shoulder pain when throwing punches. Most of us aren't at risk for this because we are either too tense or tense enough.

There are 2 types of mechanics that will literally cause you to punch your arm off. Both require that you are over relaxed when throwing your punch. This means that places that should be tense aren't. It also requires that you punch in the air, so I don't think it's likely to happen if punching a bag, as the bag will stop the forward motion of the arm as the shoulder leaves the socket.

The first dislocation is caused by the energy from the punch exiting out of the shoulder. This is similar to the injury that beginner students get when hyper-extending the elbow during a punch. Instead of the energy leaving the fist it leaves through the elbow causing the elbow to snap. The shoulder has the same risk.when the waist turns to get the full extension of the arm. If that shoulder is too relaxed and the student is trying to get the most out of twisting the waist to extend the range of the punch then it is possible to dislocate that shoulder when if the energy comes out through the shoulder.

The second dislocation is caused by weak shoulders. By weak shoulders I mean the connection of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that help connect your arm to your shoulder as well as the connection it self. Tension in this area will keep the arm from flying off. Being too relaxed in this area will cause your arm to shoot off. Even though my shoulder is screwed up at the moment, I think the muscles in my shoulder prevented the injury from being worse. I can actually feel which muscles were damaged because they are sore and not in a good way. The tendons in my elbow are also sore.

My injury occurred because I relaxed that connection before my punch ended. I had just finished doing 800 punches + kettlebell workout and on my last punch I totally relaxed my arm while my punch was in motion and the force from the punch pulled my arm out. Normally, we engage the muscles in the shoulder which keeps this from happening. For me, I have thick shoulders from years of running track and I think that's what kept my shoulder from dislocating.

I have a student that complains of shoulder pain all the time, and now I understand why. She's one of those stretchy people would have flexibility without trying. Hopefully this information will be helpful to someone.
 

Tez3

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Oh no! I feel guilty for mentioning it now. I hope your shoulder isn't giving you too much pain and you have a speedy recovery.
 

Touch Of Death

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The idea, it that if you are punching in that manner, you had better hit something. One of the best things to come from Forms training, is to teach you to stop the punch, by your self. :)
 
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JowGaWolf

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Oh no! I feel guilty for mentioning it now. I hope your shoulder isn't giving you too much pain and you have a speedy recovery.
Thanks. Don't feel guilty.
lol. I jinxed myself. My life has a funny way of making things clear to me. I would have to say that 90% of the time when I wonder how it's possible, it usually ends up happening to me. It happens so much that I don't wonder about certain things anymore lol. Unfortunately this time, I forgot that little rule so I learned the hard way. It's the first time that this has happened to me and I must say it's been an interesting experience so far. I'm taking a science /medicine approach to it where I'm taking note of what I feel, where it hurts, which muscles are affected, how fast it takes for me to heal, and things of that nature. I can probably pinpoint a general area if I look at graphic showing the human muscles. in the shoulder and back. I may add that to the membership area of the school website. While I'm not a doctor, if I can have a better idea of what the student is feeling and when, then I can probably pin point what exercise or technique causing it and correct it. I guess things like this is why the older traditional teachers were also involved in medicine and healing.
Shoulder-muscles.jpg
As for pain, certain areas in my shoulder have a burning sensation, while other area it's more of a pulsating sensation, I have weakness in my right hand, and something that feel almost like bruise under my shoulder on the backside (teres major), their is also a little tingle, around my trapezius (near the side of my neck) and shoulder. The pain is more irritating than actually painful and it's constant with an occasional pulsating pain. I took an Advil (for the ibuprofen) which will help deal with some swelling. I'll probably ice it as well because a lot of what I'm feeling today, I wasn't feeling yesterday after the injury.

If student is complaining about shoulder hurting then definitely check to make sure that it's not being caused by their arm's punching structure. I can see how a student can hurt their arm and still be able to continue exercises and drills, only to wake up the next day wondering why they are in pain and not knowing what was the cause of it.
[TBODY] [/TBODY]

It should be a quick heal for me. I'll rest it today. Saturday I have an easy day because I'll be teaching the regular classes and Sunday is conditioning day.
 
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JowGaWolf

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One of the best things to come from Forms training, is to teach you to stop the punch, by your self.
Exactly. That and don't get lazy with a punch until after the punch is actually finished lol. When the injury happened it made me feel like one of those toys where the fists shoot off, except for me it was my arm and it wasn't as cool lol.
 

Ironbear24

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This never happened to me and I think I understand why now. My problems are often being too tensed up rather then not tensed enough.
 

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Another cause of shoulder injuries while punching is rolling the shoulder too much. Boxing style punches will roll the shoulder to protect their chin. A little is OK -- a lot is a bad thing because you can actually roll the shoulder out of the joint. OK, I know there's probably a better description, but that's what's happening. The shoulder is a ball and socket; and you can roll it onto the top of the socket.
 
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JowGaWolf

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Another cause of shoulder injuries while punching is rolling the shoulder too much. Boxing style punches will roll the shoulder to protect their chin. A little is OK -- a lot is a bad thing because you can actually roll the shoulder out of the joint. OK, I know there's probably a better description, but that's what's happening. The shoulder is a ball and socket; and you can roll it onto the top of the socket.
Good information. We don't have those types of punches but now I know that I need to watch another student for that as well. He favors the boxers jab over the common martial art jab, and he's been complaining about shoulders as well. The female student with the shoulder problems is his girlfriend. They originally think that his shoulder problems are from an old injury where he didn't heal correctly. But if he's rolling his shoulder as you described then it may not be the old injury that is causing the problem.
 

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Ok so what is wrong?

What's wrong is your shoulder is hurt, and I hope you take care of it. You might have hurt it from over training. Kettlebells are terrific, I highly recommend their use. But the weight of them swinging at the end of your arms can stress various parts your shoulder, especially combined with almost a thousand punches.

Shoulders are tricky structures. I think you (all of us) would benefit from some study on them, especially with a trained medical pro.
But here's a basic - make the shape of the letter C with your left hand. Make a fist with your right hand. Insert fist into the mouth of the C. That's pretty much what your shoulder joint looks like.

There's lots of ways to damage a shoulder. Two basics are dislocation and subluxation. While one is more profound injury of the other, both are bad, painful, too. Easy (kind of) to research, might help you and you out in the long run, because they're different.

The elbow thing and shoulder thing are very different, too. Elbow is a hinge joint, as opposed to a ball and socket joint. There's a half dozen or so types of joints in the body. It sucks when you injure any of them. It just sucks in different ways, and is usually caused by different wrongs - or over training.

The differences between punching air and punching the bag are true. Most injuries in this come from missing, when your body thinks it's going to hit a target, and doesn't. Some punches are more susceptible to this than others.

There is also a huge difference and dangers in young shoulders and older shoulders. Best we all keep that in mind with young students and over forty students.

For that student you mentioned that's stretchy - that's (probably) hypermobility, and that can have it's own particular dangers, different than the rest of us,, especially in the shoulder. Have to be careful with her.

As for energy escaping anywhere, I don't know anything about that. Yet. :)

And the only reason I might know more about this stuff is I'm older and have hurt more crap than you have. And may you and yours never hurt anything again. Especially knees and shoulders.
 
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JowGaWolf

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Two basics are dislocation and subluxation. While one is more profound injury of the other, both are bad, painful, too. Easy (kind of) to research, might help you and you out in the long run, because they're different.
I'm aware of these 2, I didn't have either one. I could feel the joint separate when I was injured and instantly was happy that it was a lazy punch. I abandoned all of the structure in my punch and paid the price for it.

As for energy escaping anywhere, I don't know anything about that. Yet.
The best visual I can give with energy leaving the shoulder would be this

This popping motion (in the video below) is what happens with the type of punches that we do. With our punches the waist turns the power of the punch. If the energy from the turn of the waist isn't sent forward then it will come out of the shoulder. This usually happens when the waist continues to twist while the arm is stationary from the jab. You can actually experience this mechanic by holding out your arm similar to an extended jab. While keeping that extended arm in one place slowly twist your waist (not your hips) and the first thing you'll notice is the effect on the shoulder and how it begins to move outward (similar to the video up top). In the case of my classmate, she's either continuing the twist of the waist too far or she's allowing that shoulder to relax too much as the energy is going forward.
I have done the standing version of this shoulder strike but not the way that he does it, the way that he demo's the shoulder strike may put the person at a greater risk for injuring the shoulder. I'm not saying that he doesn't know how to do the technique, just that the demo is off. I did this technique in a lacrosse game (when I was younger) and I was able to knock a guy over using this technique (he went horizontal from the impact). They wanted to call foul, but because the technique is subtle, it just looks like he ran into me and I was the more solid object.



For that student you mentioned that's stretchy - that's (probably) hypermobility, and that can have it's own particular dangers, different than the rest of us,, especially in the shoulder. Have to be careful with her.
The other instructor that you may have seen me spar with has hypermobility. His condition just recently kicked in and as a result things for him don't stay in place the way that they should. For him it's not just one joint, it's all joints connections
 
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JowGaWolf

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As for the medical input. Here's a video on one. One of my classmates is a doctor so I'll ask him for some input to see if he says something different. In terms of Martial Arts the techniques that are found within the system (if valid) should have some understanding of dislocating joints, since the purpose of many martial art techniques is to damage the joints. Chin Na books should be a great resource on the mechanics of when stuff breaks, tears, and pops out of place.

2:07 describes what happens with the thrust punches that we do in class. The only difference is that the arm doesn't rotate backwards. The arm remains stationary and the waists continue to twist.



Floyd Mayweather shows a similar structure to the punch that we do at the :044. The only difference is that he's generating the power for this punch from the hips and not the waist. Because he's generating the power at the hips, he is less likely to injure that shoulder from the rotation. The hip rotation creates a different structure than the waist rotation. In my opinion the waist rotation gives more power, but puts the person at greater risk for injury if the waist over rotates. Mayweather can still shoot his arm forward and injure the shoulder by having it too relaxed when punching. My opinion is the boxer's version is a better compromise between power and structure than a kung fu punch. With kung fu, a small break down in structure can be very brutal on the body in a bad way. Most people complain about joint injuries in kung fu because of these small break downs in structure are occuring.
 
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JowGaWolf

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This never happened to me and I think I understand why now. My problems are often being too tensed up rather then not tensed enough.
I think of punches like a 2 pound ball attached to a rope that is tied to a hook. If the rope is flexible with little to no tension then the force of the ball going forward will break the rope where it is weakest, which in this case would be the hook that we tie it to. For us, joints are our weak points. If the rope isn't very flexible, then that will interfere with the forward motion of the ball, which means the ball doesn't travel as fast nor does it has the same force because the rope is reducing that force. In this case the same hook doesn't have to resist or pull against the same force that it haf to with the flexible rope. If our shoulders are too relaxed then those connections become weaker.
In the video you can see how tense his shoulders are. If he relaxes his shoulders too much then those weights will tear his shoulders or even dislocate it. Also notice how small the weights are, because it doesn't take much to pull that shoulder out. One slip in the structure can have some serious consequences

Shoulder injury waiting to happen.

I personally wouldn't recommend anyone to do dumbbell punches. Iron rings are safer as the weight is dispersed and moves naturally with the motion of punches. Instead of being at the end of the arm like with dumbbells. Dumbbells are more like the ball on the string. You can see how weight is shifted with the rings so you don't get that "ball on the end of a rope" scenario.
 

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While not looking at the medical input (because honestly I dont understand all of it), how is your shoulder doing jowga? Has discovering this caused a serious issue with your shoulder, or are you just more aware of those who might complain about shoulder issues?
 
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JowGaWolf

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While not looking at the medical input (because honestly I dont understand all of it), how is your shoulder doing jowga? Has discovering this caused a serious issue with your shoulder, or are you just more aware of those who might complain about shoulder issues?
It's doing ok. Every now and then I get a burning sensation or a tingle sensation but at a weaker intensity than yesterday. There's some soreness under my arm on the muscle that I pointed out. It only hurts when I put my wrist up to my ear as if I'm blocking a hay-maker. It feels like a bruise on the inside underneath the muscle, but it doesn't hurt when I touch the outside of the same area. Other than those things that it doesn't seem too bad and I feel as if I'm healing faster than expected.

I think yesterday morning was the worst of it because the pain was in the joint area and it felt like stuff was grinding. I don't feel it now so I'm happy about that as well. I'll start some rehab exercises tomorrow. I don't think it will cause serious issues as long as I take care of it and not over use it.

I try to understand kung fu techniques (martial arts techniques in general) through pain. I don't intentionally get hurt like this, but when I get hurt during kung fu, I try to really embrace the pain as if I'm trying to study the pain. I try to take note of as much as possible, like, what was I doing before the pain, how did it feel when the pain started, what mechanics was I using, what was my structure. Part of my reason for being like this is from my belief that kung fu shouldn't hurt (as in injury) the practitioner. If it hurts then the student is doing something wrong. If students complain about knees hurting, joints hurting, then I try to understand what may be causing it, and if the cause is something that they can fix or if it's something else that needs medical attention, rest, or both.

Before I got hurt, my only understanding of shoulder pains and kung fu was based on those who said they had a previous injury, broken collar bones, dislocations, car accidents. Certain exercises would irritate those old injuries. I never even knew it was possible to hurt the shoulder like this until Tez3 mentioned it. I didn't understand the mechanics of it until I got hurt. As a result of my injury I'm more aware of the mechanics that may cause someone else to have shoulder issues from jabbing.

With all of that said, It's like Buka stated, there are many ways to hurt shoulder. The injury that I have is just one of the ways associated with jabbing. I think those who train in a circular long fist system are at greater risks for all types of joint injuries due to punching.
 
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