I have been training my client twice a week for approximately three months. When we started, he had a number of muscular issues: upper kyphosis, poor frontal stabilization in the knee, poor optimal instantaneous axis of rotation in both the hip and shoulder complex and so on. I have managed to help him overcome all of those problems listed except for one. Whenever we do exercises with external rotation of the gleno-humeral head, or even exercising with a relatively heavy weight, he feels an extremely numb and deadening sensation in the right little finger (he is right handed). I was hoping you could shed some light on what could be causing this numbness.
The issue you raise may be related to many possible causes. The one that I question the most is the impact of your client’s Kyphosis. If he still possesses this, I would be interested in having the first rib and clavicle relationship examined. Emanating from C8-T1 is the inferior nerve branch of the brachial plexus. This ultimately leads into the ulnar nerve and innervates the lateral aspect of the hand. As you describe, when your client is in external rotation of the shoulder and/or lifting heavy weights, the inferior nerve branch may be impinged by the first rib. Depending upon the severity of his symptoms, it may warrant having an examination to rule out thoracic outlet syndrome, which is not uncommon within the population with the postural issues you mentioned.
As far as any overhead weight training, external rotation with abduction often produces the described symptoms. You may want to try a rotational shoulder or pressing through the transverse plane and avoid frontal plane motions with external rotation. The transverse plane shoulder press movement pattern is described as follows:
- Stand with feet approximately shoulder width apart and dumbbells held just proximal to shoulder level.
- Starting with the right hand, rotate the hips to the left while pressing the dumbbell to the 11 o’clock position (reference 12 o’clock is directly overhead). Keep the left hand near the left shoulder joint and do not drop it out of the position. It is very important the hips rotate nearly 90 degrees when moving through the rotational phase of the movement; otherwise, the risk of back or hip pain increases. For this movement to be successful, there must be adequate range of motion in the hip flexors, obliques, thoracic spine and left external hip rotators.
- Return to the start position.
- Repeat to the opposite side.
- Perform five to eight repetitions, building to two sets of 15 repetitions before increasing weight.
Technique: When performing this movement pattern, it is critical the exerciser select correct weight and maintain proper form. A breakdown in form often occurs when weights are too heavy.
(Copied with permission from Human Motion: A Pictorial Guide to Functional Integrated Movement Patterns, Human Motion Associates, Inc.)
This movement allows training of the shoulder complex but through the transverse plane and limited frontal plane action.
Also, it may be prudent for your client to have some deep tissue work done by a massage therapist.
I hope this helps!