Is Your Shoulder Impinged? Self-Test

Apr24th 2017

By Sophie Xie / October 11, 2016 | Be My Healer |

Shoulder impingement test



Is the top level of the bookshelf off-limit to you due to your shoulder pain? Do you have trouble reaching for a jar of peanut butter?

You probably heard about shoulder impingement syndrome and wondered if that’s the reason for your shoulder problem as well.

MRI shoulder impingement

In this post, I am going to help you figure out the likelihood that you are suffering from the most common shoulder impingement condition: the impingement of the supraspinatus muscle tendon.

Step one: Consider your shoulder pain pattern

Does this sound like your shoulder pain?

  • No pain when shoulder is at rest
  • Onset of pain and weakness when reaching up, reaching to the side or reaching behind the back
  • Pain is felt on the top of the shoulder, rather sharp
  • Painful shoulder cannot be fully lifting to overhead due to motion restriction
  • Symptoms worsened over time
  • Sleeping on it may make it worse

Step two: Consider your lifestyle

Does this sound like your lifestyle?

  • Your job or daily activities require you to perform frequent reaching and lifting (job such as painter, gardener, chef, electrician, construction worker, sports players perform a lot of reaching and lifting)
  • Deteriorating posture over time: Rounded shoulders, forward chin, humped back, shrugged shoulders
noodle chef shoulder impingement

Step three: The test

This test will help you to identify if you are suffering from impingement of the supraspinatus muscle.

inferior shoulder glide self mob
  1. Sit on a stool with a good posture
  2. First, lift your painful shoulder up by reaching overhead as far as possible. Notice the amount of movement and intensity of the pain you have during the movement.
  3. Next, use your hand on the painful side to grab on to the sitting surface of the stool. Lean your body and head away from the painful side until you feel a pulling/tugging/traction throughout the entire neck and armon the painful side.
  4. This pulling/tugging/traction should not cause any pain or numbness in the shoulder or arm.
  5. Hold this position for about 10 seconds and repeat about 5 times with a few seconds of resting in between. Then return your body to neutral.
  6. Right after all the traction and pulling are done, raise your painful arm again all the way overhead.
  7. If your pain or range of motion has improved in any degree, you are likely to suffer from shoulder impingement syndrome.

This test creates a downward pull to temporarily distract the shoulder girdle away from the impingement site. If you experience significant improvement in pain and range at the end of the test, you have a good chance to recover fully from shoulder impingement with proper stretching and shoulder exercises.

On the other hand, chronic and worsening impingement syndrome of the supraspinatus muscle without proper treatment may result in calcification of the muscle tissue. This crucial member of your rotator cuff may result in muscle tear that requires surgery and lengthy post-surgical rehabilitation process to return to normal.