Shoulder Pain- Mobilize the thoracic spine

Many individuals involved in physical activity encounter shoulder pain at one time or another.  Various exercises can be performed to address issues that can cause shoulder pain; exercises to address the rotator cuff and scapular muscles are commonly used for this purpose.  While many of these exercises can be used to address weak areas around the shoulder girdle, mobilization techniques can also be used to both treat and prevent shoulder pain.

While mobilizing the glenohumeral joint may be necessary, people tend to neglect mobility around the thoracic spine which can contribute to shoulder pain as well.  Limited motion around the thoracic spine (mid-back region) will limit the ability of the humerus and scapula to move efficiently during complex movements.

Here are three exercises you can include in a routine either prior to training or an extra workout to work on mobilizing around the thoracic spine:

Foam Roll Upper Back

Cross your arms in front to move your scapula out of the way and roll up and down you mid-back (thoracic) region.  You may also lean to one side or the other to focus on each side separately.

Cross your arms in front to move your scapula out of the way and roll up and down you mid-back (thoracic) region. You may also lean to one side or the other to focus on each side separately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foam Roll Thoracic Extension

Foam Roll Extension/Rotation (This movement incorporates movement at the thoracic spine and shoulder joint).

Combining these movements while addressing other weak areas around the shoulder should assist in eliminating or preventing shoulder injuries.

Injury Prevention for the Shoulder

Various orthopedic injuries may affect the shoulder of anyone involved in athletics.  Whether it be through strength training or activities involved in a specific sport, shoulder pain is not an uncommon issue facing active individuals.  When looking at chronic pain issues around the shoulder, there are various activities one may do to prevent chronic pain resulting from tendinopathies or impingment at the shoulder.

The following are some activities that may be incorporated into a warm-up regimen, or used as an extra work out to help prevent or decrease shoulder pain:

Band Pull-Apart

YTWL Series

Shoulder Tractioning, Scapular Wall Slides

Dynamic Blackburns

Lat Stretch

You will notice that most of these exercises deal with the muscles surrounding the scapula.  Even though strengthening the rotator cuff is very important, individuals tend to neglect the muscles surrounding the scapula.  Poor control of the scapula can lead to many chronic issues at the shoulder (i.e. rotator cuff tendonitis, impingement, etc).

Try incorporating some of these into your upper body strength warm-up routine, or as an extra workout to address weak or deficient areas.

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