Do you find your shoulders aching at the end of the day or when having to lift your arms? Whether your pain is from an old injury or just from moving all day long, try these simple techniques to feel better and stronger.
Why Your Shoulders Hurt
Your shoulders are the most complicated joints in your body and one of the most easily injured. They have to move through an incredible 180 degrees of motion, while still maintaining stability and strength. Some of the most important muscles in the shoulder are actually the smallest.
The rotator cuff is a series of 4 muscles that form a cuff around the shoulder (glenohumeral) joint. Although they are small, they are vital to guiding how the shoulder joint moves. When these muscles are weak or injured, the head of the humerus bone can jam up into the socket of the shoulder blade, causing inflammation and pain.
Try these simple actions to improve the health of your shoulders and alleviate that nagging ache or sharp pain for good.
- Keep your shoulders aligned by doing postural exercises – The number one reason for repetitive injury and pain in the shoulders is poor posture. With prolonged slouching, the shoulders protrude forward changing the mechanics of the way your shoulders move. This weakens your rotator cuff and shoulder blade (scapula) muscles. It predisposes you to injury.
- Strengthen your rotator cuff muscles – By keeping your rotator cuff muscles strong, you help guide your shoulder joints throughout the day, lessening the chance for injury and inflammation to occur. A simple exercise to perform is lying on your side with your top arm straight up towards the ceiling. Now slowly lower the arm down towards your hip, but not all the way, then back up to the ceiling. Repeat 10-15 times for 2 sets every other day. Stay within a pain free range of movement. Stop if you have any pain or talk to one of our physical therapists if you have any questions.
- Improve your scapula stability – The scapula (shoulder blade) is a part of your whole shoulder complex. It has many different muscles attached to it, pulling at just the right time for proper shoulder movement. Every time you reach, pick up or pull, you use your scapula. Improve the stability of them by performing scapula exercises. A simple exercise is standing against a wall and gently trying to pinch your shoulder blades together, while keeping your arms relaxed. Perform 10-15 repetitions, holding the contraction for 5 seconds.
By working on these 3 simple actions, you can dramatically improve the performance and feel of your shoulders. You should also consider making an appointment with a physical therapist, to evaluate your shoulder mechanics and prevent injury. Our physical therapists are experts at analyzing the complex movements of your shoulders to determine the exact cause of your achy or sharp pain. If your shoulders feel weak, achy, painful, or if you had previous surgeries, give St. Francis Sports Medicine a call today. We will definitely get your shoulders feeling limber, stronger and allow you to get back to doing life’s everyday activities pain free.