I see a lot of patients weekly that suffer from shoulder pain. They range from high end athletes to everyday mums and dads. Shoulder pain can be aggravated from various causes depending on the individual and activity. But one common finding across the board is aggravation with movement above the head.
This movement could have been anything from throwing a ball, lifting a weight or simply putting away dishes. I’m sure as you are reading this you are thinking “Yes!, I have definitely experienced something like this before. I must have a shoulder injury!”. Well, yes you may but the issue may not be due to the shoulder itself.
To have optimal shoulder mobility we must also have sufficient scapular or shoulder blade movement and for the scapula to move efficiently the thoracic spine, or mid back, must be moving sufficiently as well. However, in most cases with shoulder injuries I find issues with mid back mobility particularly extension and rotation. What this does is limits how the shoulder blade can move efficiently on the rib cage and requires the shoulder to do more work. The shoulder itself is already a mobile and unstable joint so we can see how adding extra demand on it can start leading to problems.
Additionally, there is a secondary issue we find with a stiff rounded mid back. There is a space that sits under our scapula and clavicle called the subacromial space. This space houses a lot of important structures such as major nerve, vasculature and tendons (ie rotator cuff tendon). What happens then we have limited thoracic mobility is when we move the arm overhead we functionally reduce this space as much as 50% and we start impinging these structures within the space causing damage and potentially neurological symptoms down the arm.
In conclusion, if you are someone who experiences shoulder pain or has in the past and have noticed it reoccurring there may be some mobility problems with your mid back which is the root cause of the symptoms.
Here quick mobility tip to improve mid back rang of motion into rotation and extension:
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