Shouldering the Pain
If you’ve ever had shoulder pain before, you would be well aware of how frustrating and inconvenient it can be. Swimming, lifting and picking up things, bench pressing, playing tennis, throwing a ball, you name it – shoulder pain can make a lot of things difficult.
Why does your shoulder hurt
With certain (acute) shoulder injuries, there is a clear moment where you remember the shoulder being hurt – your arm was jerked one way when lifting something and felt a sudden pain, for example, you fell onto your shoulder, you made a tackle and your shoulder popped out. In many cases, however, whilst we may be able to identify activities that aggravate our shoulder it’s hard for us to pinpoint a reason why these activities are causing our shoulder pain. Often it’s a result of multiple factors coming together and creating the perfect storm. Let’s have a look at a few of these factors:
Poor Rotator Cuff Strength
The muscles at the back of your shoulder, your rotator cuff muscles, play a major role in keeping your shoulder moving pain-free. Weakness or poor usage of these muscles is a large cause of pain in people who use their arm and shoulder in a repetitive fashion – think swimmers, throwers, weightlifters, painters, people who lift objects a lot for work.
Poor Shoulder-blade Stabilisers
The muscles around your shoulder-blades (scapula) play an important role in positioning and moving your shoulder-blade optimally against your ribcage. If the scapula sits and moves in a suboptimal fashion, this can put an increased load on other structures in the shoulder and cause pain. In fact, in a high percentage of shoulder injuries, these muscles are not working in an ideal fashion. Again, this can pose an issue particularly in people who perform repetitive motions with their arm and shoulder.
Tight muscles around your shoulder can either pull your scapula into a poor position and/or restrict the motion around your shoulder, thereby pinching or putting an increased load in structures around your shoulder.
Believe it or not, your posture can contribute to shoulder pain. Try this – slouch in your seat, lift your arm above your head and make note of how your shoulder feels. Now sit tall, repeat and see how it feels.
Stay tuned for a future blog post with a few simple strategies you can try to help put your shoulder on the road to recovery!