Having a sore shoulder is something that we are all a little used to, whether you are sitting at an office or day or you’re a professional athlete. It is more prevalent today and it is something that I see a lot in the clinic. Some of the issues are symptomatic due to overuse of the muscles around the joint and sometimes they are due to an actual injury that affected the muscles, ligaments, arteries, veins, or nerves that surround the joint.
Shoulder Impingement is a coin-all term that refers to any pain that is in the shoulder but it doesn’t explain what is causing that issue. The most common cause for shoulder impingement has to do with forward head posture. We live in a world where either we are in front of computer screens for hours on end or we are looking down at our phones whether it is social media or working. Technology isn’t the only villain when it comes to posture, sometimes it is the backpacks we hang on our shoulders loaded with tons of books, laptops, etc. I’m not saying they’re bad, its just sometimes our shoulders need a break from carrying the weight of the world.
When someone has forward posture, it can affect multiple joints in the body. Its not just a neck issue, it is a shoulder issue as well. When a person has forward head posture, their body is in that position for such a long time that their muscles start to adapt in turn getting their joints to adapt and eventually decreasing the optimal range of motion in that joint, resulting in pain
One of my clients was complaining of pain on the anterior portion of their shoulder which started with only certain movements but had progressed to the point that is was now constantly. I evaluated his posture while he was standing and when walking. In standing, he had a slight forward head posture which wasn’t evident unless one was looking for it but this position was causing a change in his walking gait. One of the main movements that this posture diminishes, is shoulder flexion. For shoulder flexion to occur, the humerus needs to have space around it to move in the glenoid cavity ( the “socket” of this ball and socket joint) and interact with the other bony landmarks in the shoulder blade (scapula). If it doesn’t the structures that run around this joint have limited movement which our body registers as pain.
For the first couple of appointments, we worked on increasing the length of the shorted pectoral muscles and increasing the strength in the deep neck flexors so that the body could learn what normal movement felt like. That decreased the pain in the shoulder a bit because now, the humeral head had more space to move around the glenoid cavity. Next, we worked on ergonomic changes that they could do at work, at home, or anywhere in their daily life. Together with his commitment to getting better and a couple manual athletic therapy sessions, he can now his shoulder more efficiently than he did before. He is standing more upright, doesn’t have any random headaches after long days at work, and most importantly, his pain is gone!!
Here are a couple tips to help prevent forward head posture:
1. Don’t sit on your computer for hours on end without taking a break – move, stretch
2. When wearing your backpacks, try not to make them too heavy – take the essentials, not your whole house
3. Cellphones – instead of holding your cellphone down in front of you, bring it up to eye level – it decreases the amount of tension you put on your suboccipitals
Remember, a happy neck means a happy shoulder!
Written by Whitney Dikoume, Certified Athletic Therapist
If you are experiencing neck or shoulder pain, come in to Competitive Edge and let us help! Don’t live in pain for one more second. It’s going to take some work so lets get started!
Call 403-252-6222 or email [email protected] for more info!