A painful shoulder can cause simple daily
activities such as taking a shower, getting dressed,
cooking a meal, or even sleeping to become difficult
and frustrating. We often don’t realize how much
we use our shoulder – reaching, pulling, lifting –
until we can’t.
In fact, you can move the shoulder joint in more
ways than any other joint in your body. This large
amount of movement also means it’s not very
stable (we sacrifice stability when we gain mobility
and vice versa). Because of this, it’s easy for your
shoulder to go into positions that can cause stress
on the muscles around it.
The muscles that support the shoulder are called
the rotator cuff muscles . . . actually four
muscles that connect the shoulder blade to the
The constant, repetitive, and exaggerated
movements of the shoulder over time cause these
muscles to become injured, tight, and often catch
on bone. Injury to these muscles are one of the
most common injuries we see here in the clinic.
Many of these clients head to the doctor with
shoulder pain and are given one of three options:
pain medication, injection, or surgery.
We often hear of people living on pain medication
in order to make it through a day work day or
workout. They are concerned, because over time
this could negatively affect their overall health.
If avoiding medication, you may be offered a local
anesthetic or cortisone injection that will likely
provide immediate relief. However, this is only
temporary. It only masks the problem if
nothing more is done.
If a rotator cuff muscle is actually torn, you may
be told your shoulder pain can only be fixed by
surgery. But, I wouldn’t immediately book the
It’s been reported that approximately 50% of
patients with rotator cuff tears are relieved of
pain and regain use of their shoulder through
non-surgical methods of treatment.
Opting out of surgery does not mean letting the
pain go away on it’s own. If you have had pain in
your shoulder for more than 2 weeks, it’s not
likely to disappear.
It’s going to require some work . . . but it will be
Here are 5 first steps to natural rotator
1. Initially avoid overhead activities
Overhead activities place the shoulder in its most
vulnerable position. The muscles around the
shoulder tighten up to protect it. This is
counterproductive to decreasing inflammation
and healing the muscle.
You must stretch all your shoulder muscles. This
loosens the joint up and increases the space for
your rotator cuff muscles to work. In addition,
loose and relaxed muscles are less likely to be
Once you stretch the muscles of the shoulder, we
have to strengthen them. This includes the
muscles in between the shoulder blades that pull
your shoulders back and give them the support
4. Improve posture
Posture is critical to relieving any type of
shoulder pain. Poor posture over works and
stretches the muscles. In addition, upper back
muscles that help support the shoulder become
weak in this position.
Every time you feel yourself slouching stop and
pull your shoulders back and squeeze those
shoulder blades together.
5. Interrupt the pain cycle
Often times, stretching and strengthening isn’t
possible because of the severe nature of pain.
Treatments including taping, manual therapy,
massage, or reeducation of the muscles are
needed to break the pain cycle.
Pain is a signal that something is wrong and
not to be ignored. It must be addressed first
to safely begin moving the joint freely. An
experienced orthopedic manual therapist can
most efficiently get you on the road to pain free
Just imagine what your life could be like if your
shoulder pain was gone. Could you do your job
pain free? Could you lift your grand kids easily?
Could you finish that workout at the gym that
you have been unable to do? This pain free
life is possible without medications or
Inquire today as to whether physical therapy is
the answer you have been looking for to end your
shoulder pain once and for all so you can get back
to the life and activities you love.