How to Relieve Shoulder Pain
Got Shoulder Pain?
By Jose Fuentes/MS/CPT/SCS
Shoulder pain is a symptom of tight muscles in your upper back and shoulders. If you don’t have a regular and systematic flexibility training program you’re setting yourself up for shoulder dysfunction. With the dysfunction comes the pain. You can’t remember when you did any stretching exercises for your arms and shoulders.
To give you an idea of what happens to your shoulders, take the shoulder function test…
If you can’t get the backs of your forearms, wrists and fingers comfortably back against the wall you’ve got shoulder dysfunction.
It’s a sign your calf, hamstring and buttock muscles are too tight, and/or the muscles at the front of your shoulders are too tight. When the pelvis tips back the shoulders go forward. Your shoulders can lose at least 30cm of function!
There are 3 main reasons for chronic shoulder pain and injuries:
1-Poor mobility: Often caused by tightness or dominance of the prime movers involving protraction, internal rotation & elevation of the shoulder (Pectoralis, Lattissimus Dorsi, Anterior Deltoid, upper Trapezius, Levator Scapulae, Serratus Anterior, Teres Major)
2-Weakness of the scapular stabilizers: Often the result of tight or dominant prime movers of the shoulder and/or simply weakness of the muscles involving retraction, depression & external rotation of the shoulder (middle & lower Trapezius, Rhomboids, Infra Spinatus, Teres Minor)
3-Overuse of the Anterior Deltoid: which is used during all chest and shoulder exercises.
A fourth reason could also be added which would be poor or inefficient neuromuscular coordination…
…but that could tie into the 3 reasons listed above.
This illustrates the famous Shoulder Impingement Syndrome associated with rotator cuff problems; but unless you pinpoint the muscle imbalances and restore proper form and function, neither the tendonitis nor the rolled shoulders will get resolved, on the contrary; things might get worse (think Rotator Cuff tears!)
There is also the belief that the shoulders become injured simply because they are weak and therefore many individuals attempt various rehabilitation exercises for the shoulder.
Here are some of my tips to prevent or help reduce this type of condition in its early stage:
- Take the time to warm up, stretch the pectorals and deltoids before and after your workout; the stretching should be longer at the end.
- Work the external rotation of the shoulder; these are very important exercises to help balance the shoulder joint. It should be done with low weights, high repetitions and released very slowly (the eccentric phase of the exercise is the most important!) Ask your personal trainer to demonstrate the proper way to execute this exercise.
- Ice your shoulder for 20 minutes after the workout.
- Allow 24-48 hours (or more depending on intensity) between chest and shoulder workouts.