Common Causes of Neck and Shoulder Pain: three easy tests to check if you are moving well.

2nd March 2016

Shoulder and neck pain is often predisposed by incorrect movement. In order to check if you are moving well, you must understand a bit about correct movement. Here is a little breakdown about how our upper body moves. It’s really basic, and hopefully in a language you understand. If you have any trouble with it, shoot an email over and I’ll hep you out.

Every arm movement involves both the shoulders and the shoulder blades. The shoulder blades are responsible for controlling arm movements, through fine tuned muscle activity. This control is key for injury prevention or recovery.

When you lift your arm, in any direction, the shoulder blade moves with it. The shoulder blade ‘allows’ the arm to move in the direction you’de like it to move.

If your shoulder blades stop acting as a ‘control centre’ you become at risk of injury, because your ability to move well is impaired.

How might this happen (a re-cap from the previous blog post of this series):

  1. Poor posture – this leads to interruption of the muscles which drive this control centre, leading to imbalance and instability.
  2. Poor technique – talking about technique isn’t just applicable to sport. Poor technique refers to everyday life – the way you stand, walk, carry, run, sleep etc. The way you move, and remember we move ALL the time!
  3. Poor recruitment – this may be caused by poor posture and poor technique, but it can also be developed randomly through lack of autonomic activity and through compensation from previous injury (even if the injury had nothing to do with the neck and/or shoulders). Remember, the human body is insanely clever.
  4. Poor movement from the thoracic spine (the mid back) which is commonly related to poor posture, technique and recruitment, but may also be a genetic predisposition (this doesn’t mean it can’t be treated!).

OK, lets have a look at these simple tests that I would like to teach you to check where your shoulder and neck pain is coming from, or if you are at risk of it. I advise you to carry out these tests using a camera to film yourself and look back at the footage.

For each test we are asking the following questions:

  • Are your shoulder blades moving symmetrically?
  • Sre your shoulder blades lifting off your rib cage?
  • Are your shoulders lifting up?
  • Does your chin slide forward?
  • Is there any restriction in movement?
  • Is there any pain? If so, where is it and how strong is it on a scale from 0-10 (0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain you’ve every felt)?
  • Is there any numbness/tingling? If so, where is it?
  • Is your headache being triggered? If so where and how strong is it on a scale from 0-10 (0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain you’ve every felt)?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, let me know and we will help you out through online advice or a advice to book a clinic assessment if I feel it is necessary.

If you are trying these tests alone, set up a mobile or camera to film your movements. If you are using these tests to help your training partners or clients, you can be the camera man!

Before you begin your assessment, grab a paper and pen to jot down the answers to your questions for EACH test. (You must be able to see your back, shoulder blades and shoulders on the camera, so men should remove top and women should just have a bra on).

Here goes;

  1. Flexion – Forward & upwards motion of the arms.

Stand straight. *Slowly* start to lift your arms very slowly forward and up, as high as you can. Slowly return to the start position.

  1. Abduction – Side & upwards motion of the arms.

Do exactly what you did in test 1, however your arms are now to be lifted up sideways. (remember to ask the same questions).

  1. Thoracic rotation – assessing the motion of the mid back.

Sit down comfortably on a chair, with your feet flat on the floor. Cross your arms with your hands on the opposite shoulders. Turn to one side by rotating from your spine and look over that shoulder. Do the same on the other side.

Checking you are moving well is easy, you just have to know what to look out for. Refer back to the questions I listed earlier. If you’ve had any issues with carrying out these tests, or you don’t like what you see, I advise you to email for more advice and for our booking information. We are more than happy to look over your test results for you, and address them in our next blogs or via email directly with you.

Next week I will begin to go through exercises you can do at home to target those trouble areas and reduce your neck and shoulder pain!

Don’t forget,

“Your road to recovery begins with your decision to begin the process.”

— Function360

There is so much you can do ALONE to treat your own shoulder and neck pain or prevent it even occurring, so let’s get going!

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