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  • Paul Croutworst

The shoulder pain fix: Part 1

Are your shoulders tight? Does it hurt to reach high into the cupboard? Do you find that you have to use a stool so you don’t have to reach as high?  Do you find yourself stretching all the time but still feel tight or not achieving any lasting results? Do you find yourself constantly rubbing the side of your neck or getting someone to dig at the knot between your shoulder blades?

More than likely it’s not just a tightness issue. It’s a mobility, stability AND motor control problem. Tightness is just a symptom of something else that isn’t working properly. If you want to address the root cause of the problem, you must address all three components of mobility, stability and motor control.  It’s a multi factorial problem, not just one muscle that’s tight that needs to be stretched.  In this series, I will be discussing the most common causes of shoulder pain, the associated dysfunctions and the five steps I take to restore normal shoulder function and eliminate pain.

With the demands of modern society wreaking havoc on our posture and creating postural dysfunctions, certain muscles take over and activate when they’re not supposed to and get tight while also causing weakness in the muscles they’re compensating for.

Commonly, you see a forward head position with rounded shoulders. Sitting at a desk all day or constantly working out the front of your body to get those big pecks and not balancing yourself with posterior chain work can lead to this posture. It can be as simple as looking down at your smart phone or tablet for extended periods of time.  All of these patterns have a cumulative effect and your newly evolved ‘normal’ posture eventually becomes problematic.

Does this look familiar?  This woman is looking down at her cell phone while waiting for a bus. 

Check out how this posture has actually made structural changes to her cervical and thoracic spine! Yikes! The rounded shoulders and forward head posture can be the cause of many other problems as well such as carpal tunnel syndrome, cervical disc herniation, thoracic outlet syndrome, shoulder impingement, rotator cuff tears, poor breathing patterns and more. This posture can also be caused by poor vision as well. Do you sit down to read the computer and find yourself jutting your head forward to get a better look or trying to focus better? All these patterns lead to dysfunction and eventual pain and decreased range of motion.

Generally, I use a five step process to get the shoulders functioning normal again. 1. Postural Awareness 2. Inhibition 3. Lengthening 4. Activation 5. Integration

Stay tuned to this series where you can learn how I integrate this five step process. You’ll learn the vital tools necessary to begin identifying and addressing your own postural dysfunction, how to restore mobility and eliminate your pain.

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Paul Croutworst, NASM-CPT, PTA, CES

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