This is one of the most common injuries we see here in my clinic.
The shoulder has the greatest movements of all the joints in the body and the rotator cuff is a set of muscles that supports these movements.
There are ONLY three ligaments in the shoulder that allow for a type of high range of movement. Though, this does come at a risk…
The rotator cuff muscles support the joint to give it most of the support, specifically in movements backward and above the head. The downside of this, these movements are the ones that, over time, cause the rotator cuff to become injured, tight, and often to ‘catch’ on bones.
This catching feels like when you catch your finger in the door… really sharp and gets you right in the shoulder!
The muscle is called the supraspinatus and it goes from the shoulder blade to under the collar bone. It sometimes catches on the collar bone due to the muscles in the back of the shoulder being tight; there is less space under the collar bone for it to travel through.
What are the Reasons the Shoulder Becomes Tight?
Usually, there are three reasons: poor posture, overhead activity, and overusing it in your everyday life!
Posture is the one thing that you can individually improve the most. Poor posture decreases the area underneath the collar bone. When you slouch your shoulders, it overworks them, while also stretching the muscles going into the neck.
Did you know that your head weighs about 12 pounds? When you get into a slouching posture it can cause the weight of your head to feel like it is 32-42 pounds! This causes strain in your shoulder, neck, back and it also affects your vital core muscles.
The shoulder is in the most vulnerable position when used in overhead activities because the muscles around it tighten up in order to protect it. A few times it may be okay to do but picture what happens if you do it over and over and OVER again!!
In life, it is the same, overusing your arm and shoulder creates an increase in tightness in the muscles around the joint.
Will My Rotator Cuff Heal Itself?
Sadly, it will not. You may have days where it feels incredible… but it will never go away unless you implement a change.
What do I need to do?
Besides treatment from us of course, stretching out all your muscles in the front of your chest. This will help allow your muscles in your back to work better to help give your shoulder more support!
After you are stretched, you have to get your muscles in your back between the shoulder blades stronger! This will pull your shoulders back to give it the vital support it needs.
Whenever you catch yourself slouching your shoulders, STOP and PULL your shoulder BACK, while squeezing your shoulder blades TOGETHER! This is a very basic thought that will at least help. Obviously there is much more to it but just start with this for now.
Imagine that there is always a gravitational pull, pulling the top of your head towards the sky, so you are standing or sitting with the desired posture!
Another way to relieve the pressure and give the muscles a rest, is simply switching arms in your daily life so you are not overusing one of your shoulders.
If you want to know more, ask me, or see how physical therapy can help your shoulder pain.