If you have a sore shoulder, your UPPER BACK may be at fault.
If you have shoulder pain – regardless of the diagnosis (tendonitis, impingement, rotator cuff injury, bursitis etc.) you will most likely have a stiff upper back.
You may not notice it overty, you may have nothing but a sore shoulder, but it’s highly likely to be there.
Clinically, it potentially sets the shoulder up to fail.
Normal shoulder function needs a loose upper back.
As you raise the arm, the shoulder blade rotates upwards across a sea of upper back joints, rib joints and muscles. It needs a smooth path to move.
If the joints become stiff they act like a handbrake or a block on normal shoulder movement.
Most non-traumatic shoulder pain is just a compensation. The area that hurts, tears or gets irritated is often just the end result of long term poor movement patterns – of which the upper back has much to answer for.
To see this first hand (pain or no pain) try this.
Lift both arms up straight in front as high as you can. Full range suggests about 180 degrees with your hands facing each other. Your upper back should NOT extend when your arms go up. Get a sense of how far you go and how it feels.
Next take a ball and place it on your upper back and lie down/lean against a wall. Look for stiffness and tightness as well as tenderness. Don’t roll, just let it press in for a few minutes.
Now recheck your movement.
It should now feel smoother and more comfortable regardless of how it felt before.
If injured, that tissue will obviously still need to heal, but it will need a more normal environment to do so quickly.
When dealing with shoulder pain we can’t have such a narrow focus as to just concentrate on the “shoulder” itself.
Don’t neglect the upper back!
If you have a troublesome shoulder call 1300 136 141 to BOOK in and get it sorted.
Photo Credit (sans arrows): @simeonpanda on Instagram