Why do I have shoulder pain?
Of course, sometimes you fall, or you dog yanks on the leash, but what about the times nothing happened? You just woke up with pain, or you went to move around after working on your computer and there is a nagging ache in your shoulder. The biggest culprit to shoulder pain, if you did not have a traumatic episode, is posture! So many things in our world today bring our posture forward and down. Slouched. Picture all the muscles in the front of your body getting shorter and tighter, and all of the muscles in the back of your body getting over stretched and weaker. These structures become out of balance and very inefficient. This begs for breakdown.
So, what are some ways to improve posture and limit this shoulder breakdown? For one thing, move more! Try at least every hour to get up and stretch, walk, etc. This not only changes your posture, but it gets the blood flowing.
It may also be good to evaluate your main work space. Is your laptop to low that you end up slouching as you type? Is the screen too far forward that you lean in constantly to see what it says? Are your feet supporting you on the floor to help align your pelvis and your spine? There are many ergonomic adjustments that can be made, but these are a good starting off point.
There are several exercises you can do to restore posture including stretching your pecs (think wall stretching to open your chest) and strengthening your shoulder blades (think of things that pull back, like shoulder blade squeezes, shoulder rows and many more). There is also a correlation with core strength and posture, so doing some superman's, planks and gluts bridges may be helpful as well.
Lastly, it can be helpful to find an external cue to remind you to correct your posture. Every time you see a red light try to sit up taller. Every time you hear your name in conversation, tuck your shoulders back. Finding things in your everyday life to remind you will make it feel more like an automatic response rather than an exercise you have to take time to do.
If pain persists after consistently working on some of these changes, it may be a good time to come see a provider for further evaluation.
Katie DuFrene, PT, DPT, LAT
Physical Therapist, Athletic Trainer
The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics - MMI Division
3280 Urbana Pike, Ste 105
Ijamsville, MD 21754
Phone: 301-694-8311 ext: 1255