• Kris Krotiris

Shoulder pain: the most common missing link to your recovery

Updated: Dec 18, 2018

Many people spend their working days sitting at a desk or using or carrying tools or equipment. Many also spend their leisure time on a computer, watching TV or looking at a smartphone or tablet. What is the common factor here which contributes to a large percentage of shoulder problems seen in our clinic? Take a look at the picture below:

The anteriorly tilted and abducted shoulder-blade

All of the activities mentioned above encourage a 'rounded' posture where the shoulders tilt forward.

Take note of the following points about this posture:

- Increases stress on the important structures in the shoulder making them more vulnerable to injury

- Increases strain on musculature around the neck, increasing risk of developing neck pain and headaches

- It looks bad! No one likes looking at a slouched posture!

How do you fix it?

- Teach your muscles how to posteriorly tilt and/or adduct your shoulder into a neutral posture (see the picture below)

- Build your strength in this position by working the right muscles, in particular the lower and middle trapezius. A great exercise for these muscles is shown below.

- Improve flexibility in the muscles pulling you into a 'bad' posture (pec minor, pec major, levator scapulae)

- Cue the right muscles to set your shoulder-blades into the correct position before carrying out any upper body exercises in the gym

Building strength/endurance

The Y-Hold exercise is very effective at activating and strengthening the lower trapezius, an important muscle involved in achieving and maintaining correct shoulder posture. See the pictures and steps below on how to perform this exercise correctly. The arms should only be lifted to a point where control is maintained, muscle activation is felt between the shoulder-blades and not at the front of the shoulder.

What other common problems can cause or increase the risk of developing shoulder pain and should be considered?

-Impaired function of rotator cuff muscles (weak and/or tight)

-Tight posterior joint capsule

-Stiff thoracic spine

-Impaired function (tight, weak) of other scapulothoracic muscles (serratus anterior, lats, pecs, upper traps, levator scapulae)

-Improper training loads (doing too much too soon) or incorrect technique

What can these problems lead to in an active/sporting population if left unaddressed?


-Rotator Cuff or Biceps tendinopathy

-Joint Instability

-Cartilage damage (labral tear)

If you are having shoulder problems, it is important to get the above problems seen to in order to avoid potential injury. A great place to start is ensuring you have good shoulder-blade posture when exercising your upper body and implementing the Y-hold into your program to build strength and endurance in the all-important lower traps!

#posture #sportsphysio

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