The shoulder is the most mobile joint in our body and as a result, lacks stability, making it more prone to overuse injuries. It is required to perform many daily activities and to be able to do so, relies on all the surrounding muscles and ligaments for support.
These surrounding structures are known as the rotator cuff muscles and work towards stabilising the shoulder joint. Along with the stability needed from these muscles, the shoulder joint relies on the movement of the shoulder blade and upper back and neck, to be able to move efficiently. Therefore, the rotator cuff muscles can fail to function optimally, when biomechanical imbalances arise in the surrounding structures, allowing it to become more prone to overuse injuries.
A common reason for overuse injuries occurring due to biomechanically imbalances is poor posture. This often results from long hours sat at a desk which is not properly set up to suit you. Resulting in an individual being hunched over and leaning forward, putting extra stress on your neck, shoulder and back muscles, stretching and weakening them.
A condition often seen within practice is impingement of the rotator cuff muscles, commonly the supraspinatus tendon as it passes through the sub-acromial space. This space may become reduced due to altered shoulder biomechanics, poor posture and repetitive overhead activities. This reduced space causes the tendon below to become irritated and inflamed, causing pain and limiting mobility. Pain is usually felt when the arm is at shoulder height or above, reaching behind your back or direct compression onto that shoulderA successful treatment plan is largely based on the examination of the underlying causes and addressing these factors is a priority.
Assessment will look at the biomechanics of the shoulder joint complex, including the shoulder blade and upper back, and how they all function together as a unit. Treatment will aim to restore shoulder blade control and normal function of the whole joint complex. Along with exercise to improve any imbalances identified, restore rotator cuff strength and aid the recovery process. In the short term it is important to stop any aggravating activities so that to reduce irritation, this may involve avoiding any overhead activities where possible. It is vital to listen to your body, be conscious about your posture and know your limits.