Shoulder pain is one of the most common complaints that I deal with as a personal trainer. The shoulder may be the most mobile joint in the body due to its anatomy and because of this it takes a lot of wear and tear over time. The shoulder and the hip are ball and socket joints but the shoulder has a much shallower socket than the hip. The muscles and ligaments around the shoulder are what keeps the ball in the socket. If these muscles and ligaments become too tight they decrease mobility at the joint. Then, when they are put under stress during physical activity they can stretch and tear.
What causes these muscles to become so tight? Poor posture is one of the main causes of loss of shoulder mobility. Slouching decreases the amount the shoulder can flex by almost 20 degrees. Forward head posture also forces the shoulders forward, pushing them against the front of the socket. So one of the best ways to address shoulder pain is to address posture. Although exercise is important to help strengthen the muscles around the capsule it can’t undo an entire day of putting the shoulder in an unfavorable position.
Strengthening the muscles of the shoulder is an important part of any exercise program. The main muscles of the shoulders are referred to as the SITS muscles.
The “S “stands for Supraspinatus which is found on the outside upper part of the shoulder blade and is important for elevating the shoulder. Below it you find the “I “, or Infraspinatus, which is responsible for external rotation of the shoulder. The other muscle responsible for shoulder external rotation is the “T”, or Teres Minor, which is found at the bottom of the scapula. The final S stands for Subscapularis, this muscle is found on the inside of the scapula and is important for internal rotation of the shoulder. Addressing both internal an external rotation of the shoulder during warmup or as a filler exercise between more strenuous exercises is important for increasing the stability of the shoulder and reducing shoulder pain. One of the best ways to work this rotation is to do the following simple exercises with a resistance band:
Another thing to be aware of when talking about shoulder pain is exercises to avoid. Any exercise that puts the shoulder in an unnatural position or forces the head of the humorous forward in the shoulder socket can lead to injury. Exercises such as triceps dips and upright rows place the shoulder in this position and can easily be substituted with a safer exercise.
Keeping the shoulder healthy should be a priority of any exercise program. Sports such as baseball, tennis and golf require use the shoulder and can’t be enjoyed if there are injuries. Give me a call today to start a program that can help you keep your mobility and stay healthy and pain free!