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Shoulder complaints are all too common but fortunately there are many things that you can do for long-term shoulder pain relief and prevention.
Mind Your Mid-Back
Mobility through the mid-back is key in allowing the shoulders to move well. You can easily test this yourself:
- First sit in a slumped position and raise your arms as high as you can.
- Keep your arms raised as you move from slumped to sitting tall.
- Now sitting tall see if you can move your arms any further.
You will almost always find that you are able to reach higher as you sit tall. This highlights how important mobility through the mid-back is. A stiff mid-back, just like slumped sitting, limits the ability for the shoulder blades to move on the chest wall decreasing shoulder movement and increasing risk of shoulder and neck injury.
One easy exercise to help improve mid-back stiffness is ‘Wall Slides’.
- Stand with your back against a wall with the back of your head against the wall and your chin tucked in.
- Bring your feet forward away from the wall just far enough that you can keep the whole foot in contact with the floor throughout the exercise (heels not lifting up).
- Place your arms above your head with your elbows at 90°.
- Keep your hands pinned against the wall as you squat slowly downwards.
- On the descent, actively breathe out and feel your abdominal muscles tighten
- You should feel a stretch/ pulling sensation either through the chest, the mid-back or both.
- Do not let your knees fall inwards.
Your infraspinatus is one of four ‘rotator cuff’ muscles. These small shoulder muscles help keep the ‘ball’ of the shoulder ball and socket joint sitting squarely in the socket. Very often in shoulder complaints this muscle can become tight and overactive. Not only does this disrupt shoulder mechanics – limiting overhead movement or causing pinching in the shoulder – it can also cause numbness, tingling or heaviness into the arm. Therefore if you suffer with shoulder problems and also have tingling into the hand the infraspinatus muscle should definitely be investigated.
One simple way to address this muscle is to lie on your side (bad side down) with the arm perpendicular to your body and the elbow bent to 90 degrees. Next, place a tennis ball, dog ball or trigger point ball under the shoulder, directly under the back of the shoulder blade where the infraspinatus lives (see image opposite). Slowly roll your shoulder blade under the ball until you find the tenderest spot. Then either hold this position for 2-3 minutes or slowly rotate your hand backwards and forwards like a windscreen wiper. This windscreen wiper movement will shorten and lengthen the infraspinatus muscle over the ball helping to restore proper muscle function and relieve associated pain.
Hanging has been shown to be an effective practice for a range of shoulder conditions including impingement syndrome, rotator cuff injury or frozen shoulder. Hanging improves with mid-back mobility, increases shoulder blade movement and helps traction the shoulder joint itself.
Start slowly, with only partial weight hangs for 10-30 seconds. Over time build up to full weight 1 minute holds 3-5 times per day.
Nutrition for shoulder pain relief
What you eat can also play an important role in some shoulder conditions particulary tendon problems e.g. rotator cuff impingements and tears. Deficiencies in nutrients that are important for connective tissue and muscle repair (such as protein, vitamins C and D and magnesium) or inflammatory diets (that are high in sugar and bad fats) can predispose to soft tissue injury and shoulder pain. Learn more about nutrition for injury here.
Are you looking for further shoulder pain relief?
Click here to find out how Treatment at Dynamic Health Jersey CI could help.
- Chiropractic for Shoulder pain relief
- Upper back cat exercise for shoulder pain relief
- Shoulder conditions
- Nutrition for injury
- Liebenson. C., Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies
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‘Top tips for shoulder pain relief’ was written by Steffen Toates. Steffen is a chiropractor at Dynamic Health Chiropractic in Jersey CI. For more information about Steffen click here.