Did you know one of the top 5 most common injuries for people with active, outdoor lifestyles is to the shoulder? Have you ever wondered how to build stability while maintaining mobility in your shoulder to prevent or treat injury? Keep reading for not so common answers to very common questions!
Everyday we move our shoulders repeatedly in multiple directions. Movement occurs not only at your shoulder itself, but also at many joints throughout the shoulder complex as well as into your rib cage and spine. A person's shoulder is built for mobility based on the orientation of your true shoulder joint, so it is important to make sure that you build strength in your rotator cuff muscles. These are the primary muscles that support your shoulder, in addition to the surrounding tissues that also attach in and around that area.
Although the shoulder has a significant amount of movement, any restriction throughout the shoulder joints can lead to injury of the muscles or joint. There is also an important piece of the puzzle that often gets missed. If your rib cage and spine are tight, then this can directly affect your shoulder mobility which in turn affects your ability to build strength.
Our bodies are meant to function in an optimal position with good posture and alignment. Every time you move your arm overhead, you naturally should have trunk movement. If the tissues that surround your rib cage or the rib cage itself is tight, then that restriction can lead to problems elsewhere including your shoulder.
If you have limited shoulder motion in any direction, the first place to look is at how you're breathing. Are you breathing with your neck muscles or are you able to take slow deep breaths, which result in expansion and collapsing of your rib cage? Breathing with your neck muscles can lead to tightness and pain not only in your neck, but also down into your shoulder. The action of taking slow, deep breaths and feeling your lower rib cage collapse and expand allows for good rib cage mobility and prevention of tightness. Can you blow up a balloon? The only way you can blow up a balloon is to use your diaphragm! The use of your diaphragm, which attaches at the lower part of your rib cage is what keeps your trunk mobile, contributing to optimal movement in your shoulder. Once you have this, performing exercises that stabilize your shoulder complex will result in better outcomes and optimal strength!
Have a great day and take a moment to breath deeply. Your body will thank you for it!
Brandis Gunderson, MPT