How to Overcome Shoulder Pain


First things first when discussing anything shoulder related, the shoulder is a very complex structure with a lot of moving parts that must work perfectly together in order for proper shoulder function to occur. These parts include the glenohumeral joint (shoulder joint), scapular (shoulder blade) mobility and strength, rotator cuff stability, thoracic (mid back) and cervical (neck) mobility, and more.


In this blog, we will cover the most common causes of shoulder pain (they are in no particular order) and dysfunction that we see with our clients. However, by no means is this an exhaustive list. Keep in mind that the quickest way to overcome pain is know the exact cause of the problem and have a customized recovery plan to follow.


Common Causes of Shoulder Pain


1. Shoulder Mobility


The shoulder is a highly mobile joint and it is important that we keep a balance between all of the motions for proper shoulder function. If we have a restriction in one motion it can cause compensation patterns, which can eventually lead to pain. 3 ares of the shoulder complex that often have mobility restrictions are:

  • Pecs

  • Lats

  • Shoulder Internal Rotation

Check out the video below to learn 3 stretches to help address tightness in these areas.



2. Thoracic Mobility


Due to the orientation of our shoulder blades on our rib cage and their muscular attachments to the thoracic spine, as well as the ribs attachments to the thoracic spine, it plays a key role in shoulder mobility and health. In order for use to achieve full shoulder mobility, we must also have full thoracic mobility. Thoracic mobility is often an area people struggle with due to the sedentary nature of many of our jobs. Check out this video for 3 great thoracic mobility exercises to help improve posture and potentially your shoulder pain.



3. Rotator Cuff Stability


The rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscles: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. Their main job is to keep the ball centered in the socket while shoulder movement is occurring. The shoulder is an inherently unstable joint due to its structure, which allows us to have movement in all directions. However, this means that the shoulder relies heavily on muscular stability for proper functioning. If the ball doesn't stay centered while movement is occurring, it can lead to dysfunction and ultimately pain in the shoulder joint. Below are 3 exercises that focus on rotator cuff stability, you incorporate these into your warm-up routine prior to upper exercises.



4. Scapular Stability


The stability of our shoulder blades is another one of the key pieces to proper function of the shoulder complex. Our shoulder blades provide the base around which our shoulder moves. As with any base, it needs to be stable for everything else to work properly. In this video you will find 3 exercises to address scapular stability and help you build the foundation for shoulder function.



Wrapping Up

As mentioned in the introduction, shoulder pain can be very complicated due to the complexity of all of the moving parts of the shoulder complex. These 4 areas are common areas of immobility or weakness that can typically lead to shoulder pain. Starting to address these areas in your warm-ups and accessory work can be a great way to start self treating your shoulder pain. However, as also mentioned, the quickest way to overcome pain is to know the exact cause and get a customized recovery program that addresses your specific needs. If you have been dealing with shoulder pain, we invite you to schedule a free Discovery Call with us. This 15-20 min call allows us to learn more about your specific concerns, allows you to ask any questions prior to booking an appointment, and helps you make sure that we are the right fit for you. You can schedule a Discovery Call by calling/texting 515-985-9038 or by clicking here.


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