How does my shoulder posture influence my neck or arm pain?
What does my shoulder blade position have to do with my headaches or my elbow pain?
I can almost hear my clients thinking this very thought at times during a physio session. The shoulder blade and surrounding musculature is the base of support that the entire arm works from. The group of muscles that attach the shoulder blade to the chest wall are collectively known as scapula-thoracic muscles and are often sore and tight in people with postural neck and upper back pain.
How does this happen?
Every muscle in the body has a specific length and tension it needs to be held at to have optimum strength. If a muscle is made to work at a poor length or tension it means that it will struggle to complete its function and often get tight a sore. Subsequently when the shoulder blade is not positioned well it affects the strength of the surrounding muscles that happen to attach to the shoulder and to the cervical and thoracic spine. This can then go on to cause nerve irritation, headaches, stiff and sore necks and backs and shoulder problems…and it doesn’t just stop there. Poor shoulder blade position can cause strength and dysfunction right down the entire arm as far as the hand.
What can I do?
Correcting your shoulder blade posture requires a period of rehab and muscle retraining. It involves strengthening the upper limb, core and shoulder blade muscles in the corrected position. Once the shoulder blade is in a powerful position it can then rely on the rest of the body’s core strength to do a movement.
It is important to know that every shoulder blade is different not one position is perfect for every individual. Strengthening and correcting your shoulder blade posture might just be key to overcoming your neck, upper back or arm pain.
Lindsay Young (APAM)
(POGO Master – B Physiotherapy)