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Do your shoulders hurt?

Often shoulder pain starts with occasional achiness and progresses to hurting with “certain movements” (often reaching behind you to get something in your back seat, putting on a belt, or reaching up to put something in the cupboard). Then it progresses to hurting all the time. If it gets bad enough, surgery may be necessary, but if caught early enough, often surgery can be prevented.

Typically people start out with ice, rest and possibly an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. If this doesn’t work (or stops working!), physical therapy may be warranted. At that point the neck will be screened (to make sure that nothing is coming from that), and they will assess soft tissue flexibility (which will include the muscles, and the joint capsule), the joint itself, and then the muscle performance. Are the muscles working together correctly? Is there control? Is there endurance and strength in the muscles? And then corrective exercise is given at that time.

What can you do to prevent shoulder pain? Keep flexible and strong! Typically people have very tight pectoral muscles (chest). A great way to stretch them is to support your forearm in a door way, and gently turn your body until you feel a good stretch across your chest. If you vary the position of your arm on the doorjamb you can get to different fibers of the muscle.

The scapula muscles are also typically weak. A good way to strengthen them is to do “snow angels.” Lie on the floor or put your back against the wall and bring your arms out and up like you are making a snow angel. If you keep everything flat you will be surprised at how difficult this is to do – especially on the wall. And remember your posture. Keep your shoulders back and down, like you are trying to push your shoulder blades into your back pockets.

Keep your shoulders healthy!

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