Poor Posture & Shoulder Pain.

What is poor posture and how does it affect the shoulder?

Posture is basically how your carry your body.  It has a lot to do with the anatomical structures and size of your body (which you cannot change), as well as the strength of your muscles (which you can change).  One the biggest influences on good or bad posture is your environment and the conscious efforts that you make to help correct it. For example, sitting for work for 8, 10, 12, 14 hours a day.

Poor posture leads to muscles that become weak, chronically tight, or overly lengthened.  As with most dysfunctions this causes a muscle imbalance to occur which then affects the body.  Regarding the shoulder, it mostly affects the shoulder blade (scapula) muscles and the neck. The scapula is critical in stabilization and movement of the shoulder joint.  All of the rotator cuff muscles attach there and there are many other muscles that go from the shoulder blade to the neck and have a direct effect on the shoulder joints movement patterns.  For this reason, poor scapula position is the cause of many rotator cuff injuries and shoulder pain.

How do you know if the pain is coming from poor posture?

In order to figure out where the pain is coming rom and what the problem is we use a movement system to help diagnose the problem.  This also includes range of motion, functional testing, muscle strength testing, and it is often visible to the trained eye to see if someone has poor posture.  

What if it is my shoulder joint, not scapula?

As we mentioned before, the scapula must move properly for the shoulder to function properly.  Often times we see a lot of injuries occur when people sit at a desk, have poor posture, weakness then they attempt to do some sort of physical activity.  While physical fitness is good for you, most people do not do the necessary postural strengthening exercises to help the normal alignment and function of the joint.  This then leads to damage or injury to the joint when they are playing a sport or doing an activity. Many times patients will come into the office stating it was when they threw the ball or did a push up but it’s often not the case.   In this case, it is necessary to not only treat the shoulder joint for pain but to also treat the scapula and address the postural dysfunction as well as find the true source of the problem.

How do you treat shoulder pain from poor posture?

Simply stated, strengthen the weak muscles and free up or create mobility within the muscles that are too tight.  Finally, you need change your old habits.

How long does treatment take?

Treatment time to fix the problem is much different that the time it takes to reduce pain.  This means that to reduce the pain levels, it may take a few or several visits but to correct the problem it make a few months and or longer!  Why longer? Well, think about how long and how often your posture has been poor for? Also think about how weak some of those muscles may be? In these cases people can expect to have good results but it just may take the time to undo some of the bad habits and they have accrued during the years.  

What else should I know?

If you are looking to change your posture or improve your shoulder or neck pain, you will hear us talk a lot about strengthening, mobility, and lifestyle changes.  This means doing things like take more frequent breaks, being more aware of your posture. The goal is to do this often enough that it becomes a learned habit. Because much of this is conscious and subconscious, it take a while for a behavioral change to occur.