Although shoulder pain is not as common as knee or low back pain; a large percentage of us are effected by shoulder pain and can’t seem to figure out why. Most pains you feel are stemming from a muscular imbalance somewhere in your body, and if you let it go for too long it can lead to more serious injuries later on down the road.
The Anatomy of The Shoulder Joint
To avoid confusing you, I’m going to use simple terms to describe the basic functions of the shoulder joint. This will help you figure out which motion you are restricted in.
The shoulder is a “ball-and-socket-joint”; just like your hip. There are A LOT of muscles crossing, inserting, and originating from the shoulder joint; which makes it more prone to injury. If you have different tensions coming from different sides of the shoulder; you are more likely to experience some sort of shoulder discomfort.
Here are a few basic functions of the shoulder you will want to test out and see which one you lack mobility in.
- Overhead: Possibly the most commonly restricted motion of the shoulder; is to simply raise both arms straight overhead, without compensations. Compensations that may happen would be arching your low back to get your arm up past your head, or shrugging up your traps. If you have full range of motion and functionality; you should be able to raise both arms overhead; in-line with your ears WITHOUT compensation.
- Abduction (Lateral Raise): Having the ability to raise your arms straight out to the side without excessively shrugging up or arching your low back shows functionality of the shoulder.
- Flexion (Front Raise): Having the ability to raise both arms in front of you without compensations of your low back arching, or excessively shrugging up, also shows functionality and mobility of the joint.
- External Rotation
Note: these are not all the functions of the shoulder joint; but these are the five that you will want to assess to determine which range of motion you lack mobility in.
Most Common Muscular Imbalance Causing Pain
As a society, most of us lean towards a more sedentary lifestyle which includes sitting at desk for hours on computer, texting all day, driving excessively, and never holding our posture up.
This leads to our posture getting effected, and commonly the shoulder joint gets rounded forward and gets stuck in this position. Being stuck in Internal Rotation causes you to lose most of the functionality of the shoulder joint; also leading to weakness in the Rear Deltoids, Rotator Cuffs, and excessive tension within the Front Deltoid.
This will push everything inside the shoulder joint to move forward and lose the ability to bring the arms overhead, to the side, front, and back.
Where to Start…
The answer will be different for everyone, but a great place to start would be to work on loosening up your front deltoid by doing shoulder and chest stretches daily; along with using a lacrosse ball or foam roller on the restricted musculature surrounding the joint.
Strengthening the rear deltoids, external rotators, and working on posture daily would be a great way to start decreasing the pain you feel.
If you don’t know where to start; feel free to drop us a question below and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours!