If you have ever experienced shoulder pain you will understand how frustrating it can be, and it is not until the issue begins that you may realise just how important your shoulder joint is, and how often you use it in daily life. Activities that were once simple, such as putting on your coat, brushing your hair, or even reaching to get a glass from the cupboard, can become a real challenge. So this week we delve further into the structure of your shoulder, and offer some self-help tips you can try if you are currently struggling with shoulder pain, or if you just want to be proactive preventing issues from starting in the first place. Your Shoulder Joint Did you know that your shoulder girdle has more freedom of movement than any other joint in your body? The complex joints and structures that support it allows you to have increased mobility, allowing you to move your arms in all directions. Due to the complexity of the joint, there are many reasons why shoulder pain or stiffness can occur in the first place. These can range from damage or inflammation to the muscles or tendons around the joint, there may be degenerative changes to the bones or cartilage, or it could be referred pain from your neck. Due to the range of possible causes, it is always best to get your shoulder assessed by your Chiropractor or other health care provider who will carry out tests to get to the root cause of the issue. If you do currently have shoulder pain or want to help yourself and prevent it from starting in the first place, then here are 5 tips you can keep in mind: 1. Be mindful of your posture Many shoulder issues start due to repetitive movements that are happening in a less than ideal position. Being mindful of your posture throughout the day by sitting or standing upright and avoiding slouching or leaning repetitively to one side can help to reduce unnecessary stress. This doesn’t mean you need to force your head and shoulders back all day as this realistically isn’t going to be sustainable. However, a little movement you can practice throughout the day is to get the muscles in between your shoulder blades working which help to support your shoulder position. A very subtle movement of bringing your shoulder blades back and down whilst keeping your chest still will activate these muscles. If you struggle at the start, try practising using a mirror. 2. Adapt your sleeping position Allowing your shoulder time to heal is essential and adapting your sleeping position can help with this. When in bed, try laying on your back so that your body is in a neutral position. Some people find resting their affected shoulder and arm on a pillow can help for comfort and support. If you prefer to sleep on your side, lay on the unaffected side so you are not putting pressure through the joint. When on your side, try to make sure your pillow fills the depth of your shoulder when laying on it, so that your head and shoulder are supported. 3. Reduce the strain If you need to carry out manual work, try and use both sides of your body so that you spread the load. Avoid lifting heavy items where possible, and if you do need to don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you need to carry bags such as shopping, avoid placing the bag on the affected side, and if you do need to, be sure to wear a rucksack over both shoulders to help distribute the weight. If you are doing general housework such as hoovering or cleaning, we give you full permission to break the task down and have regular breaks, allowing you time to rest. Try to keep your movements close to your body, for example if using a vacuum cleaner keep it closer to you, which encourages you to stand upright and helps to reduce the strain through your upper body. 4. Keep mobile It is natural to want to guard your shoulder and stop all movement when in pain, and whilst it is important to listen to your body and not force it, it is essential to keep up some form of activity. Walking is the simplest way of keeping your body mobile whilst being low impact. Also doing some intentional controlled movements through your shoulder joint regularly during the day will help with the rehabilitation process. 5. Seek help If your shoulder pain persists or starts to become worse we would recommend seeking help so that you can get tailored advice, and we would be happy to support you in the process. As Chiropractors we have a wealth of experience and success with shoulder complaints, from getting to the root cause of the issue, all the way to supporting in the healing process by delivering specific chiropractic adjustments and offering focused guidance. So why not give these tips a go and see how you get on? And don’t forget, you don’t have to wait for pain to start, all of these tips can be done proactively too! If we can be of further support, please reach out. The content of this blog is for educational purposes and is not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.
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