4 things you can do at home to keep your shoulders healthy and pain free
Much emphasis gets put on the rotator cuff and it’s importance to shoulder health. Yes the rotator cuff is very important, but the rotator cuff consists of only 4 very small muscles, whose primary function is stabilization and keeping the shoulder properly in the socket. The rotator cuff cannot do its job on its own and needs a ton of help from the muscles and joints around it.
In order to truly keep our shoulders healthy and allow the rotator cuff muscles to do its job, we need to make sure that everything around it is in balance and in good position. The position of our shoulder blade determines whether our not the shoulders sits properly in place. For the shoulder blade to be in optimal position it needs to be resting properly on the upper back and the muscles need to be balanced around the shoulder and shoulder blade.
We have discussed this posture before and its implication on shoulder pain, neck pain, back pain, and many others. In this position the upper back is overly rounded, causing the shoulder blades to tilt forward and the shoulders to round forward. This causes the muscles of the chest and back of the neck and tops of shoulders to be tight.
In this poor postural position the rotator cuff muscles can impinge as there is not ample room for them to move freely and do their job. This impingement over time can create strains and tears in the rotator cuff.
In optimal posture and biomechanics there is ample room for the rotator muscles to move and do their job. If we can maintain proper alignment and muscle balance our shoulders will remain healthy.
Things we can do at home to prevent this from happening include:
2. We can foam roll our upper back to improve upper back (thoracic spine mobility)
3. Perform home soft tissue work to the muscles of the rotator cuff and our short and tight chest.
4) In the weight room, if you have had shoulder troubles in the past, I usually advise against upright rows, dips, shoulder shrugs, overhead pressing, front dumbbell raises, and many others. These are provocative maneuvers and narrow the space for the shoulder and rotator cuff to move. An incline press will always put more stress across the shoulders than flat or decline press. If you have shoulder troubles avoid incline for the time being, and try using dumbbells instead or barbells. You might even consider a neutral grip where the palms face each other, as this can often be more comfortable for those with shoulder issues.
If you are having shoulder problems always seek professional consult. Depending on symptoms and where the pain is in the shoulder, the shoulder pain could be due a number of different conditions such as disc herniation, radiculopathy, labral tears, rotator cuff tears, arthritis, thoracic outlet syndrome, and many others. To get a correct diagnosis and answer seek out a health care professional. Deep tissue work, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, and proper rehabilitation work in great combination to restore proper shoulder function without pain.
Dr. Ryan Dunn D.C.