The shoulder is one of the most mobile, versatile joints in our body. With this large amount of mobility, however, comes greater instability and makes the shoulder more susceptible to injury and pain. There are many causes of shoulder pain, but one of the most common causes that can affect anyone is poor posture.
Poor posture is something that seems to be plaguing our population now more than ever. Due to the prevalence of smart phones and tablets, almost anyone you see will be sitting with a slumped posture, in which the shoulders are rounded and the head is in a forward position.
Sitting in this fashion puts the shoulders in a precarious position; rounded shoulders can limit the subacromial space and predispose the rotator cuff tendons to impingement, fraying, and tearing. Over time, slumped sitting can also lead to tightness in your chest muscles, restricting your shoulders to a more forward position, and weakness in the back and shoulder muscles that are responsible for stabilizing the shoulder complex in an optimal position for movement.
So, what can be done to improve posture and reduce the likelihood of having shoulder pain? First off, posture is a difficult thing to change, but just being more aware of your posture is the first step toward improving it.
Secondly, making frequent corrections – sitting up straight, bringing your shoulders back, and your head in line with your shoulders – will help to cut down on the amount of time spent in a poor posture and reduce the overall stress on all involved muscles and joints.
Finally, performing exercises to stretch tight muscles and strengthen the weak rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers will go a long way toward allowing the shoulder to be positioned properly, move with improved mechanics, and reduce the likelihood of experiencing injury or pain.
-Kevin Churchill, DPT