Shoulder blade pain
Many of the patients I see in clinic come in complaining of pain around their shoulder blade, radiating up into their neck and across the top of the shoulder. Often their work is desk based and some are physically active and some less so. Sometimes stress is an issue but often there isn’t any clear moment when they hurt their shoulder, it has just come on gradually over time. Symptoms like this can effect sleep, cause headaches and lead to reduction in physical activity. Pain in the body can be scary especially when there doesn’t seem to be a reason for it.
Fear not!!!! It is almost always caused by postural issues and there is plenty you can do both at home and at work to help reduce your symptoms.
Your shoulder; or to give it its true name, the Glenohumeral joint, is an amazingly simple yet complex synovial joint consisting of the scapula and the Humerus. It is the most mobile joint in the body and is capable of amazing movement. The head of the Humerus is held within the glenoid fossa of the Scapula by a group of muscles known collectively as the Rotator Cuff. (a whole other topic!)
The movement of the shoulder joint relies on lots of muscles all interacting with each other to provide smooth interactions between the movement of the scapula and the position of the humeral head.
If you sit in a maintained position; as we so often do in todays society, the muscles around the scapula can be held in a lengthened position. The rhomboids attach from the spine to the border of the scapula and help pull the shoulder blades back towards each other. If you sit with your shoulders rounded then the rhomboids; over time can become lengthened and weak. There may also be in imbalance in the trapezius muscle; often the upper fibres are stronger than the lower ones. The lower fibres of traps are important for stabilising the scapula and sometimes struggle to keep up with the often more developed. stronger upper fibres. A muscle that is permanently lengthened or overworked can create pain. This may be due to reduced blood supply to the tissue, reduced range of movement or local inflammation that compresses other areas of soft tissue. Unhappy soft tissue will tell you its not happy and this is usually be creating pain signals. Sleeping may well contribute to the build up of symptoms over time as your arm drops across your chest and lengthens the already grumbly muscles. It may feel stiff and sore in the morning around the shoulder blade. Likewise if the muscles at the back of the shoulder are lengthened, the muscles at the front may become shortened or stiff so when you try to move your shoulder it may feel sore or blocked. This can; over time lead to impingement of some of the soft tissues around the Glenohumeral joint.
The pain around your shoulder blade can feel constant or might even radiate up into your neck. This is because the imbalance can effect many muscles as some try to take over the work of the muscles that are struggling. Muscles want to work together symbiotically and love to be moved. Todays lifestyle doesnt always lend well to achieving this.
So how can you help yourself reduce these symptoms?
Heres’s my top tips
1- get mobile at work. Make sure you take a break every 30 mins to just move your shoulders around. A little work out of 5 shrugs, 5 rolls and 5 shoulder blade squeezes (as though you are trying to pull them down to your back pockets
2- Incorporate some posterior shoulder exercises into your workout. Exercises like single arm row or using the rowing machine can be great for really working out the muscles that pull your scapula backwards/towards each other.
3- stretch out the muscles at the front of your shoulder- always aim to hold stretches for 20-30 secs 4-6 times and do them daily.
4- get active!! If you don’t already then try to incorporate some activity into your life. It could be swimming, dancing, circuits, bootcamp. Find something you enjoy and that gives your whole body a workout. Health muscles are happy muscles
If you are experiencing shoulder pain and would like a proper assessment and more individualised help and advice please contact the clinic or book online