Video FAQ: Does Shoulder Weakness Always Cause Pain?

 

There is a common misconception that muscle weakness around a joint always causes pain within that joint. This could not be further from the truth! It is possible to have a weak and painful joint, but sometimes people also have pain when they are strong. Pain is often more complicated than faulty body mechanics or muscle weakness.

For the shoulder joint in particular, there are indicators outside of pain that point to muscle imbalances within the joint. These might include:

  • Tight shoulders
  • Shallow breathing
  • Weak grip strength
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands
  • Muscle weakness in the forearm, elbow, or wrist
  • A loss of shoulder motion

If you are experiencing any of these you could benefit from a shoulder strengthening program! Shoulders provide stability for use of the arm and hand, so shoulder joint health is very important. Consider seeing a physical or occupational therapist for an appropriate shoulder exercise progression based on your needs. 

 

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3 Exercises for Weak or Painful Shoulders

Acute or chronic shoulder pain is a common reason a person might seek out the services of a therapist. In this blog post, we will cover the starting point of our favorite exercises for weak or painful shoulders. First, we will discuss different types of exercise and how we use each type to promote pain management. Then we will demonstrate shoulder alignment and give instructions for strong, healthy shoulder joints!

Sound like a plan? Here goes...

When we initiate a plan of action for either acute or chronic pain, we structure an exercise sequence in a specific order. The first goal is to calm down the pain response and bring more stability to the joint in order to allow for bigger movement. Once pain is addressed, we look at underlying movement patterns and reinforce patterns to promote optimal joint health! Let's take a look at the difference between different types of strengthening exercise and discuss a starting point for weak or painful shoulder joints.

Different types of...

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Quick Test: What Does Actual Shoulder Mobility Look Like?

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and indoor

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and indoor

A key component in maintaining strong, healthy shoulder joints is understanding how to differentiate between using actual shoulder mobility v. other joints to compensate for a lack of shoulder mobility.

As the above photos demonstrate, more than one joint can be used to reach arms overhead. Many of us mistakenly believe we are strictly using shoulder mobility to accomplish this motion. The first photo shows someone reaching arms overhead to touch the wall behind them. At a glance this might look like fantastic shoulder mobility, but take a closer look at what is happening at the rib cage. It moved away from the wall to help move the arms further overhead. Once the end of actual shoulder mobility is reached, rib cage thrusting can help us achieve further movement without using the shoulders but using the low back instead. 

Is this a problem? Not always. But if you are looking to improve actual shoulder joint mobility, compensating with rib cage thrusting bypasses the...

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Announcing our Strengthening for Shoulder Pain Workshop on Saturday June 30th, 2018

One of our favorite exercises for chronic shoulder pain is isometric shoulder strengthening. An isometric exercise involves using the muscle without moving the joint through a range of motion. This is a great initial start to a strengthening program to bring stability to a joint.
 
Isometric exercises can be done in all directions to strengthen multiple muscle groups. This easy exercise can be performed by positioning yourself near something that can provide resistance, like a wall. Then gently push your arm into the wall and hold for a few seconds. Sounds straightforward enough, but this is also an easy exercise to compensate with different movement patterns. The pattern we most often see people doing is performing a shoulder exercise using their trunk rather than actually using their shoulder (as demonstrated in the above photos, be like picture 2 not picture 1!) Trunk stability in this exercise is essential for proper shoulder strengthening.
 
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