Movement Imbalances of the shoulder can Lead to Dysfunction

Paula Allia

In recent articles posture has been discussed. A big problem area is the forward head posture. What ties in closely to this positioning is the shoulder complex. This article will focus of the complexity of the shoulder and a common misconception of the positioning of this area. One of the directives given by some yoga instructors is to keep the shoulders down and back.

This seems to be misunderstood by many people. When standing with the arms by the side, keeping the shoulders down and back may be appropriate. What this means is that the upper trapezius, which shrugs the shoulders up, should be resting and not be up by the ears. Many people keep this muscle up and contracted. If this happens you are allowing movement imbalances to occur.

The misconception regarding this topic is that when the arms are raised overhead, the shoulder blade is supposed to rise up. The upper trapezius muscle contracts in a synergistic action with the lower trapezius to control the shoulder blade. This coordinated movement is essential to avoid abnormal movement patterns and thus
avoid breakdown of this area over time.

The shoulder complex deals with four joints working in a coordinated manner to create the proper action. This deals with joint biomechanics, ligament restraints, and of course, muscular contractions. If the proper movements are limited for some reason then problems can occur. For example, if the trapezius synergy does not occur with overhead motion, the glenohumeral joint which is what most know as the shoulder joint, is overused. This often can lead to this joint overcompensating to make up for the missing motion of the shoulder blade.

Overcompensation of this glenohumeral joint may cause the joint capsule to abnormally get stressed and sometimes parts of this capsule may loosen while other parts tighten. Many have heard of the rotator cuff muscles but just in case you haven’t, these four muscles are the stabilizing muscles that coordinate the movements at that shoulder joint. They have to work harder when the synchrony fails. Over time, this joint can get limping which cause even more dysfunction and breakdown. Chronic impinging causes bursitis and possibly rotator cuff breakdown. When that happens activities become impaired and the quality of motion diminishes.

A common finding with the forward head posture is that the shoulder sits more forward than it should. Many people seek advice and then they start doing exercises to strengthen the shoulder muscles. If the right exercises are not done, further movement imbalances can occur and the slow interruption for good movement is now absent. This can cause all sorts of problems between the neck, upper back, and shoulder complex.

Poor posture did not start in a day. It is years of habitual activities that alter the good positions that once existed.
Some habits can even be familial in nature. Be patient with your body. If you have bad habits make sure that
you try and undo the stresses of the day by opening up your posture. Find the right exercises to help you! They are different for everyone and remember, using your shoulders overhead demands for the scapula muscles to work synchronously for smooth coordinated activities to occur.
Here’s to your health!

Fitness Together
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Naples, FL 34102


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