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Back You are here: Home Sports Other Shoulders - Your Blades Of Glory
Friday, 27 November 2009 13:32

Shoulders - Your Blades Of Glory

As joints go, shoulders are right up there with the most complicated. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that they were designed badly, rather that we as the operators tend to over do things sometimes.

Our modern day life styles don't help much: sitting at your school desk, in your office (mom and dad), or in front of the TV, and hunching over your books, the keyboard, or Xbox. This hunched position prevents the muscles of the upper and middle back from doing their jobs- part of which is to support the shoulder blade and synchronise it with the motion of the arm. The shoulder has a shallow socket with connective tissue, muscles and ligaments that hang onto an arm, which even when at rest, is being pulled on by gravity!

Designed to move in multiple planes, the shoulder gives up a bit of stability for all the mobility it has. The muscles around the shoulder/shoulder blade provide some of the stability as well as the strength to produce movements.

When you slouch, hunch, or sit with poor posture, you actually push your shoulder blades into a position which causes certain back muscles to be on stretch. Over time, your body will adjust to this position so that it becomes natural, causing some muscles to be tight or shortened, and others stretched and weak, altering the normal biomechanics of the shoulder joint.

Your shoulders are meant to be orientated out to the side; this gives your arm enough room to carry out all movements. Once your shoulder blades drop/droop or rotate forward, you actually cut off and limit certain movements. This also increases the risk of you damaging the muscles that run in and around the shoulder blade by pinching them between the bone surfaces.

Bad shoulder posture may restrict your;

  • Range of arm movement
  • Neck rotation range of movement
  • Limits the expansion of your ribcage

The message here is for the sporty and non-sporty school goers, as well as parents; by slouching you may be setting yourself up for future shoulder and back problems. For those playing sport it is especially important, as any biomechanical fault, even if it is relatively minor, is potentially made far more hazardous by the repetitive movements of most sports.

Sitting up straight may not be the most comfortable position, purely because the muscles need to work to hold you there. It is easier to slouch, as there is no work involved- your muscles turn off and remain in a stretched position. If you have been slouching for a long time, your back muscles may also be weak. This means that not only must you sit up straight, but you should also do some strengthening exercises for that specific region.

Like I mentioned before, faulty shoulder biomechanics will put you at risk of shoulder impingement and other overuse injuries. A simple measure to reduce your risk is to sit up straight. This trains your back muscles to work and to hold your shoulder blade in the correct position. If you can see in the mirror that your shoulders droop forward, or if you aren't sure, speak to your local physio. They will be able to assess and give you advice on which stretches and exercises to do.

That's all from me. You know what to do.

Jason Hiemstra

Physiotherapist