As a kid, we have all been told to sit up straight. But what does it really matter? Can our poor posture really contribute to any lasting impairments? In fact, posture can be a contributing factor to several potentially painful and debilitating injuries. Besides the obvious spine problems, such as scoliosis, back pain, neck pain, etc., poor posture can have detrimental effects on the health of your shoulder. As you sit here reading this, slouch forward in your chair and try to raise your arm overhead as high as you can. Doesn’t quite go as far as you thought it would, does it? Now, sit up straight and raise your arm overhead and observe how much more motion you can achieve with improved posture. This simple self-experiment is a perfect example of the huge impact the position of your spine can have on your shoulders.
Why does my posture affect my shoulder pain?
Your posture can affect shoulder motion and shoulder pain because it changes how much room you have for movement inside you shoulder. A healthy shoulder with great posture can have up to 10 mm in the “subacromial space”. This is just a term used for the space that your shoulder has to move, which is located underneath your acromion process and above your humeral head. By slouching forward, your shoulders naturally begin to move forward. The change in position of your shoulder blade alters the amount of space your shoulder has for movement in the subacromial space. With this change, the amount of shoulder motion is limited because the structures within this space can get pinched. Over time, the repetitive pinching of these structures can lead to shoulder pain and impairments such as bursitis, tendonitis, impingement syndrome and even a rotator cuff tear. Most rotator cuff tears are not caused by a single traumatic event. Normally it is wear and tear of the muscle over several years that lead to an eventual tear. All of this can be exacerbated further if you participate in overhead sports such as softball, volleyball, tennis, etc. Especially if the muscles surrounding your scapula are weak or poorly controlled.
What contributes to poor posture?
- Long duration sitting or standing while bending forward
- Weak upper back muscles
- Tight chest muscles
Can I fix my poor posture?
Posture training is a necessity when treating any shoulder injury. Treating the shoulder alone will almost guarantee that shoulder pain and impairment will return once again. Several different types of treatment go into treating posture in addition to treatment of the shoulder.
- Increasing strength and muscular endurance of postural muscles
- Stretching and releasing any tight muscles forcing postural muscles to be overworked
- Upper back range of motion and mobility exercises as well as manipulations
- Re-educating the body and training to be aware of posture to be able to self-correct
If you are dealing with shoulder impingement or an annoying shoulder pain that is not going away, call us at 407-494-8835 and schedule your evaluation today. We only have 5 evaluation opening a week so call now and start your pain to being pain free today!
Richy Scafidi, ATC, LAT, SPT is a 3rd year doctoral physical therapy student at the University of Central Florida. He is completing his orthopedic clinical here at Pursuit Physical Therapy currently and then will graduate with his Doctorate in Physical Therapy next year in May 2016. His undergraduate studies were in Sports Medicine, also at the University of Central Florida, and he is a Licenced Athletic Trainer.