Shoulder neck pain tests: Three Easy Tests to Find Shoulder and Neck Pain

24th February 2016

Shoulder neck pain tests

Three Easy Tests to Find Shoulder and Neck Pain


As I discussed with you guys last week, shoulder and neck pain are really common in a large number of the general population. Today I am going to teach you how to assess yourself to see if you can begin targeting the actual CAUSE of the problem and eliminate chances of long term problems. Find out about the shoulder neck pain tests that can change your life!

I will warn you that these tests are the quick and easy tests that may be carried out to identify general issues with movement patterns in the shoulder and neck. Although they are not diagnostic tests they will still get you started on the right track towards preventing shoulder and/or neck pain or recovering from it.

Before we get into the actual tests for assessing shoulder and neck pain, I am going to give you a really simple overview of the mechanics of the upper body, in the most simple terms I possibly can. For those of you who don’t really get it, its fine you don’t have to understand it fully to carry out the tests. I do believe however that its more interesting for you to understand your body’s mechanics when trying these tests, so if you would like more information feel free to contact me and I will happily go into more details.

Your shoulder blades are connected to your shoulders by joints, which are surrounded by many muscles. Many of these muscles are shared by the neck. This means that often when there are postural or movement issues with the neck, it effects the shoulders and vice versa – because they are all so interrelated. This is exactly why I am covering the shoulder and neck pain together. I think this will make it easier for you to figure out the actual cause of your problem, rather than just work on the symptoms. Addressing the cause from the start ensures long term results, and that is exactly what we want. Who wants a recurring injury? I know I definitely don’t.

Here is a list of things that may go wrong and lead to shoulder and neck pain. Next week I will cover points 2,3 & 4 in a lot more detail when I teach you how to carry out a more dynamic assessment. Here goes;:

  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!).

(Again, any troubles just ping over an email – I’m happy to help!)

OK, lets have a look at these simple tests that I would like to teach you. I advise you to carry out these tests using a camera to film yourself or take photos and look back at the footage.

For each test we are asking the same questions:

  • Are your shoulders sitting symmetrically?
  • Are your shoulder blades sitting symmetrically?
  • Does your chin poke 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.

Here goes. Before you begin your assessment, grab a paper and pen to jot down the answers to your questions for EACH test.

1. Static postural test for shoulder blades


shoulder neck pain tests

Stand still, relax your neck and shoulders. Take a video or photo and go back to your questions. Write down what you see. Some examples from the picture above: Lifted left shoulder, winging right shoulder blade at bottom inner corner,

2. Static shoulder position – standing and lying down

shoulder neck pain tests

Do this lying down looking from the top or standing up looking from both sides. Take your video or photo and go back to your list of questions. Some examples from the picture above: left shoulder is lifter forward off the bed, chest muscles on the left side look like they have more bulk compared to the right.

3. Neck range of movement

shoulder neck pain tests

Stand still and relax shoulders and neck. Turn your head slowly one way, then turn your head the other. What do you feel? Don’t forget to write it all down. Some examples of the picture above: left shoulder is elevated, left range of movement is less than right, chin is poking forward upon left rotation.

If you’ve had any problems 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 for free. Lets start to build a pain free world, guys!

Next week I will begin to go through some more advanced and dynamic tests you can do at home too. We will be looking at movement patterns and restrictions – I’m excited!!!

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