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The 5-Steps To Avoid Shoulder Pain

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

I've treated many, many shoulder injuries over my career, and the common root causes are consistent - pronated shoulders and poor thoracic mobility.

This week, let's explore the anatomy of the shoulder and middle spine to understand how mobility and flexibility to this region can prevent shoulder injuries and reduce any existing stress, tension and pain.

Wait! If you've not had chance to download your free copy of my newest book The 15-Step Playbook for Pain Relief, click on the book image and download your digital copy now. You can also order a paperback edition directly from Amazon.

Common Symptoms

- Shoulder stress, tension and pain - Arm numbness and tingling - "Frozen", immobile shoulder - Neck pain and headaches - Radiating pain down the arm

- Reduced range of motion to the neck, shoulder and spine

Anatomy of the Shoulder & Thoracic Spine

The shoulder is a unique, complex joint that is comprised of the humerus, scapula and clavicle. Being capable of three ranges of motion, the moment it's ranges are impeded in any direction - commonly caused by postural habits - muscular imbalances are created and quickly become ingrained if left unaddressed.

Postural awareness becomes an essential tool in breaking these neuromuscular patterns.

The thoracic spine is comprised of 12 vertebrae each of which attach to a pair of ribs. These costovertebral joints accommodate a small range of motion to aid in the process of breathing. The thoracic spine itself permits flexion, extension, lateral flexion and a dash of rotation.

The Root Causes of Shoulder Pain

Postural debt is the major contributor to the cause of any muscle stress, tension and pain. The two types I describe in my book, are mental and physical.

Mental debt refers to a mind imbalanced with excessive negative thinking, complaining and distractions. For example, any pain or disease related to the shoulders and middle back can relate to 'carrying our experiences' in life. Excessive dwelling on past, negative experiences and/or fear and anxiety of possible similar experiences in the future can limit our range of motion and manifest as physical pain. Remember - you are what you think.

Physical debt refers to a body imbalanced with poor food, poor body alignment and improper rest and recovery. For optimal health, happiness and vitality, I recommend to pay off this debt ASAP using my checklist below alongside my 15-Step Playbook!

Here are the two most common physical, postural causes of shoulder pain:

1. Pronated Shoulders The more pronated, or rounded, your shoulders are, the more limitations you are creating in the shoulder joint. You are also creating a greater tendency for this posture to remain and worsen if you don't take any time for regular body work, stretching, mobility or exercise.

2. Poor Thoracic Mobility With rounded shoulders comes a rounded, or kyphotic, thoracic spine. We adopt this posture early on in our educational system - sat at a desk and curved forward to perform our work. What about your typical day now - how many hours each day are you positioned with your back curved forward and your shoulders rounded? We need regular movement, stretching and body work (our key investments) to help pay off this debt ASAP.

Restoring Balance in 5-Steps

  1. Move - increase your body temperature and blood flow to all your muscles.

  2. Massage - using a lacrosse ball or foam roller to agitate the muscles.

  3. Mobilize - move the joints in their full range of motion.

  4. Stretch - focus on lengthening the short-tight muscles.

  5. Corrective Exercise - focus on strengthening the long-weak muscles.

This week I'm sharing a personal favorite of mine - the thoracic mobilization using a foam roller. Check out my instructional video below. I recommend to do this mobilization every day, as often as you wish to help relieve your back and shoulder stress, tension and pain.

I recommend to also read my blog article If You've Had Shoulder Pain You Need This Trick in which I share how to stretch the major anterior muscles of the shoulder.

Any questions, you can reach me at my clinic by phone: 403 589 4645 or email:

Please help me on my mission to relieve stress, tension and pain. Share this anyone you know that would benefit from this blog article :)

Yours In Muscle Health,

Jason Barlow, RMT

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