Suffering from shoulder pain? Do you have difficulty or pain lifting your arms, sleeping or reaching? Whether your pain is from an old injury, issues in the shoulder joint or just from repetitive stress from moving all day long, try these simple techniques to feel better and stronger.
Why Your Shoulders Hurt
Your shoulder joint is a complex, shallow ball-in-socket joint that can move in multiple directions and through a wide range of motion. They move through a staggering 180 degrees of motion while maintaining stability and strength. It is no wonder the shoulders are so susceptible to injury.
The shoulders depend on 4 small rotator cuff muscles to control and stabilize the shoulder. Although these muscles are small, they are vital in how the shoulder joint moves and functions. When these muscles are weak or injured, the head of the humerus bone (or “ball”) can jam up into the socket of the shoulder blade, causing inflammation and pain.
Try these simple actions to improve the health of your shoulders and alleviate that nagging ache or sharp pain for good.
- Posture UP and keep your shoulders aligned by doing postural exercises – The number one reason for repetitive injury and pain in the shoulders is poor posture. To prove it to you, try this: slouch and try to raise your arm overhead. Notice that the motion gets stopped, blocked or is uncomfortable. Now straighten up - notice the freedom with which you can lift your arm. With prolonged slouching, the shoulders round forward changing the mechanics of the way your shoulders move. This weakens your rotator cuff and shoulder blade (scapula) muscles. It predisposes you to injury.
- Strengthen your rotator cuff muscles – Strong rotator cuff muscles help maintain good shoulder mechanics, lessening the chance for injury and inflammation to occur. Two simple exercises are as follows: 1. Affix a resistance band at elbow height. Keeping your elbow close to your body and bent to 90 deg, pull the band from out to inward against the resistance of the band. Turn around, and repeat pulling the band from in to out, elbow next to your body. Repeat 2 sets of 15. Stay within a pain free range of movement. Stop if you have any pain and contact your physical therapist.
- Improve your scapula stability – The scapula (shoulder blade) creates the “socket” of your ball-in-socket joint. It has many different muscles attached to it, including the rotator cuff. The motion of the shoulder is dependent on the scapula moving at just the right time and stabilizing so that the shoulder remains strong through its motion. Improve the stability and control of your shoulder blades by performing scapular exercises like a row or a simple scapular squeeze. At its simplest form, you can do this by squeezing your shoulder blades together, while keeping your arms relaxed. You can do this in standing or lying on your stomach. Perform 10-15 repetitions, holding the contraction for 5 seconds.
If you or someone you love is dealing with shoulder pain, the best option to resolve your symptoms would be to schedule an appointment with a licensed physical therapist. At Next Level Physical Therapy & Athletic Performance, our team of dedicated professionals can help get you out of pain and feeling your best! Ready to get started? Give our office a call at 661-383-9828!