Can Bad Posture Cause Shoulder Pain?

by | Jan 31, 2024 | Somatics

In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it’s easy to overlook the impact our posture can have on our overall health. One pressing question often lingers in our minds: Can bad posture cause shoulder pain? Any change in our posture doesn’t just affect our appearance; it can significantly alter the mechanics of our body, leading to various health issues. One common consequence of bad posture is shoulder pain, and in this blog, we will delve into how posture can influence shoulder health and explore effective solutions to alleviate the discomfort.

How Does Posture Affect Your Shoulders?

Our bodies are intricate and interdependent systems, and the way we carry ourselves plays a pivotal role in their optimal functioning. When our posture deviates from the norm, it introduces a domino effect on various systems: musculoskeletal, fascial, respiratory, digestive, and even the nervous system. Our unconscious postural habits, over time, slow down the time it takes for our Postural Reflexes to respond. This results in “poor balance” and increases our chances of a fall. Our posture not only influences the carriage of the head, pelvic position and our base of support, it also impacts the positioning of our shoulder blades. This change in position alters the timing and coordination of shoulder muscles and shrinks the space for shoulder movement and our ability to turn our head.

Over time, postural changes shift the dynamic relationship that exists between our skeletal structure and function. Poor joint alignment produces subtle changes that lead to a condition known as shoulder impingement syndrome. This syndrome involves pinching the tendons of shoulder muscles against the surrounding bone. As skeletal structure changes, our movement quality does, too. Now, everyday activities of daily function are the source of repetitive or strained shoulder movements. This is how function changes the skeletal structure. And the degenerative process continues to loop and feed upon itself. Understanding this connection between posture and shoulder health cannot be overstated.

Shoulder Impingement from Poor Posture

To comprehend the mechanics of shoulder impingement, let’s take a closer look at the anatomy of our shoulders. The shoulder comprises three prominent bones: the upper bone (humerus), the collarbone (clavicle), and the shoulder blade (scapula). Two crucial joints are present in the shoulder – the acromioclavicular joint, where the shoulder blade and collarbone meet, and the glenohumeral joint, where the ball of the upper arm and the shoulder socket meet.

The rotator cuff is a network of tendons that take their muscular origin from the front and back sides of the shoulder blade. Their job is always to secure and maintain joint integrity, even when your arm is at rest. The rotator cuff constantly makes minor adjustments to ensure that the “ball” of the humerus moves smoothly in the “socket” of the scapula. As a group, these small tendons coordinate the ball moving within the confines of the socket as the larger muscles surrounding the outside of the shoulder joint move our arm. The quality of the partnership between the inner tendons and outer muscles dictates our shoulder health. However, introducing poor posture into the equation can disrupt this delicate balance.

Our rib cage supports the shoulder blades. In other words, the ribs form the support base on which the shoulder blades will “stand.” In a hunched, rounded-shoulder, or forward head position, you change the carriage of the ribs. Therefore, the shoulder blades are chronically slipping forward, “falling down” and “off” their support base. This alteration in the natural alignment changes the “workload” of the rotator cuff tendons, rendering them inefficient. Alignment changes also narrow the space between the acromion (part of the shoulder blade) and the rotator cuff tendons. As a result, the tendons rub or pinch against the bone, causing inflammation, pain, and restricted mobility – the hallmarks of shoulder impingement syndrome. Over time, the nervous system compensates for the alignment changes by signaling extra bone growth to stabilize the joint. Osteoarthritis, the formation of bone spurs, is the result. As a tendon rubs across the spur, like a rope, the tendon will fray, weaken, and even rupture, resulting in a rotator cuff tear. 

Understanding this cause-and-effect relationship highlights the importance of maintaining good posture for long-term shoulder health.

How Somatic Modalities Can Help You Improve

Now that we have discussed the link between bad posture and shoulder pain, finding potential solutions is crucial. Somatic modalities offer a promising avenue for improving posture and alleviating shoulder discomfort. These modalities zero in on addressing the root causes of pain, guiding individuals towards restored physical function and enhanced well-being. Instead of trying to “strengthen” the rotator cuff, first, try changing the carriage of the ribs. This way, you offer the shoulder a better support base and restore the dynamic relationship that exists between our structure and function. Click here to be directed to a video link.

At Montgomery Somatics, we provide paradigm-shifting solutions that surpass conventional approaches. Our interventions aim to empower individuals to comprehend the underlying problems causing their pain and dysfunction. By offering personalized guidance, this therapeutic approach helps individuals find effective solutions and facilitates positive changes in their situations.

Don’t let pain and dysfunction hinder you from living your best life. Taking proactive steps, such as engaging in somatic-based movements, can pave the way for recovery and a renewed sense of physical well-being.