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Simple Changes Can Help Shoulder Pain

By Marcy Wright Reoch, BSc, RMT

Since the beginning of 2014 I have seen more shoulder related patients than I can count. Some patients presenting with pain between their shoulder blades and others with pain over the Deltoid muscle (side or front aspect of shoulder) and sometimes the pain can travel down the arm. Whatever the aggravating case, the shoulder complex always seems to be in a compromised position.
The shoulder joint is actually made up of four joints that together are called the shoulder complex. These joints are the sternum (chest bone) and clavicle (collar bone), clavicle and scapula (shoulder blade), scapula on the ribs, and the humerus (upper arm) in the scapula.  Don’t get bogged down in the anatomy, just remember to try and keep your shoulder comfortable and open. Try keeping your chest open during your everyday life whether we are sitting at a desk, driving in our car, working out at the gym, or playing with our children. Think of what a confident persons posture looks like. By practicing to open through our chest we discourage the rounding through our shoulders and collapsing of our chest. By keeping our chest open we are pulling our scapulaes together and down our back, we are depressing our clavicles so they are horizontal when looking in the mirror, instead of being diagonal and we are positioning the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) in it’s neutral resting point in our arm pit.
When we practice poor postural habits, the alignment of our shoulder girdle is inefficient, unsupported and allows risk for injury. Muscles might be working too hard and symptoms of pain, inflammation, weakness, headache, and others may arise. Practicing good postural habits through our shoulders, chest and upper back we allow the soft tissue to rest comfortably when we ourselves are at rest. Then, when we choose to move, the musculature is in it’s most efficient, supported and strongest positioning through the range of motion.
A great way to set your shoulders into a good position is to stand up tall and engage through your abdomen. Now, squeeze the muscles between your scapula (shoulder blades), which will pull your scapula closer together and then pull them down your back. Once you have done this, acknowledge where your head is. Most peoples heads will be too far forward and will need to be pull back into proper alignment. So, think of a string pulling the top of your head upwards. This will elongate your neck and retract your chin from jutting forward.
It is important once you have an understanding of good shoulder positioning, to check in with yourself throughout the day. If you sit at a desk, you can put a red sticky dot on the monitor that will remind you to re-evaluate your posture every time you look at the dot. If you are driving in your car, place the seat in an upright position. The biofeedback from the seat on your shoulder blades and back of head will help you recognize poor posture and allow you to re-correct it. When at the gym, it is important to always set your shoulders into good alignment before entering a new set of your workout. This will help prevent injury by supporting the joint and allowing the muscles to work as efficiently in order to gain strength and endurance as quickly as possible.

Click here for : Body Awareness - Shoulder Positioning Video