• 4 Easy Exercises to Avoid Shoulder Pain

    April 07, 2017 | By Brian Coughlan

    If you have ever dealt with shoulder pain, you know it can affect your daily life significantly: sometimes even putting a shirt on can be a challenge! To make matters worse, shoulder pain often comes on in the absence of a specific injury, making people wonder what caused their pain, and how to get rid of it and ensure it doesn’t come back.

    The shoulder is a complex joint and is the most mobile joint in the body. In order for the shoulder to function the way it should, the shoulder and shoulder blade (or scapula) have to move together in the proper pattern. When this isn’t the case, decreased mobility, abnormal movement patterns, and muscle imbalances can result. Over time, these changes cause repetitive stress on the soft tissues and joint structures around the shoulder, leading to the development of shoulder pain.

    It’s All About Muscle Balance

    Having the proper balance of muscle strength and flexibility around the scapula and shoulder is critical in preventing shoulder pain. Common muscle imbalances include over development and tightening of the upper trapezius and pectoral muscles paired with weakness of the rhomboid and rotator cuff muscles. These imbalances can cause repetitive stress on the soft tissues of the scapula and shoulder, and eventually lead to strain on the tendons and cartilage of the shoulder joint.

    People can also create these imbalances themselves by putting too much emphasis on strengthening certain muscle groups, like the deltoids and pectoral muscles, while neglecting others, like the rotator cuff and mid and lower trapezius muscles. The end result: muscle imbalances around the shoulder and an increased risk for developing shoulder pain.

    Don’t Forget About Posture

    A common cause of muscular imbalances is poor posture. Having good posture allows for the joint and soft tissues to be in their ideal position and to function most efficiently. Poor posture is characterized by things such as a slouched upper back, rounded shoulders, and a chin poke, all of which facilitate the muscle imbalances described previously.

    Bad Habits

    Many of us have certain habits that can be bad for our shoulders. For example, carrying purses or backpacks on one shoulder, sleeping on the same shoulder every night, or sleeping with your arm above your head can irritate your shoulder. Overtime, the repetitive stress can lead to inflammation and the development of a shoulder injury.

    What Now?

    To help improve muscle balance and shoulder alignment here are 4 easy exercises you can do:

    1. Sleeper stretch
    2. Thoracic spine mobilizations on a foam roller
    3. Serratus punch
    4. Pectoral stretch

    If you are struggling with a shoulder issue or want to learn more about how to prevent shoulder pain, call us at one of our 3 Edmonton physiotherapy clinic locations (Riverbend, Belvedere, Namao) or at our newest location in Sherwood Park.