Do you have pain in your shoulders after a day of working at the office? Is it painful to lift your arm overhead to get the dishes out of the cabinet? Did you stop throwing the ball with your kids? No more weekend pickup basketball games because it hurts when you shoot?
Shoulder pain is no fun and really can put a damper on the simple activities of life…and the ones you really enjoy. There is no reason to let shoulder pain get in the way of your daily routine. A little knowledge about the shoulder and some things you can do to help end your discomfort are a great place to start in getting yourself back to feeling pain-free.
The shoulder joint is complex. It is the most mobile joint in the body and for good reason…we have to reach for things high, low, left, right, in front and behind. For the shoulder to move well it needs to have some strong and coordinated muscles to provide the stability to reach for an object, grasp it, and move it to another spot.
There are a number of muscles that attach into the shoulder, scapula, and even the neck. Most people have heard of the rotator cuff muscles….these are small muscles that are important in keeping the ball in the socket when you move your arm. There are many more muscles involved in the shoulder and they all need to work together for your shoulder to stay healthy and pain-free.
Two things that I have found to be helpful for painful shoulders is improving the mobility of the spine and strengthening the muscles of the shoulder with the hands on the ground.
Why is the spine important for your shoulder? Try this simple experiment to find out. Take a straight arm, don't let it bend, and reach it overhead as far as you can (stop if it hurts). Now round your back like you have a slouched posture then raise your arm. It won’t go as far. Now extend your spine by lifting your chest toward the ceiling. You will likely have more motion in your shoulder when you raise it this time. The difference between a stiff and mobile spine may be the difference between an arm that pinches when you lift it or one that is pain-free.
Now that we know the spine is important in shoulder mobility let’s talk of the obvious. A strong shoulder is a healthy shoulder. There are a ton of ways to strengthen a shoulder, but one thing most people don’t try is exercises that involve the hand on the ground. A hand on the ground allows the shoulder complex to move with the arm in a more stable position. If you get on your hands and knees and bear weight through the hands you can get the muscles of the shoulder complex working together. Press through your hands until you feel your shoulder and upper back muscles contract. Keep pressing while you move your body in different directions (example: rock forward/backward, side to side). You might find that you can even get your arm in a position that would be overhead if you were standing and do this pain-free (example: modified child's pose). This is a simple exercise to do and there are many more you can do with a hand on the ground or the wall. These are called closed chain exercises.
Try the two tips above, but if you have shoulder pain that does not go away then it’s time to consult an expert. Physical therapists are experts in rehabilitating shoulders. They can help you figure out what you need to do to get rid of your shoulder pain. A physical therapist will help you reduce your pain and stiffness with hands-on techniques and will identify what exercises are best for your shoulder.
Don’t wait any longer to get rid of your shoulder pain. Contact Body Evolution Physical Therapy & Wellness…we will help you get back to doing the activities you love!!
I'm just a guy helping active adults and athletes frustrated by nagging aches and pains naturally return to a healthy lifestyle.