There is no getting away from the fact the shoulder is a complex joint. Its vast range of movement variability is a trade off for its instability – in simple terms it’s one of those joints where things can often go wrong.
Often people experience feelings of pain or ‘pinching’ in the shoulder, particularly through specific ranges of motion, clunking and clicking sounds either with or without pain, and reductions in range of motion.
All too frequently we tend to jump to the old adage of ‘stretch what’s tight’ and ‘strengthen what’s weak’. So when it comes to shoulders: trying to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles, and / or trying to stretch the skeletal muscles around the joint.
Unfortunately when it comes to shoulders – its rare that either of those are the solution. And if we aren’t aware of the functional anatomy of the joint – may actually be making things worse!
The culprit for almost every complaint we experience at the shoulder (bar those coming from direct trauma) is alignment and integrity of the joint: in short, keeping the ball in the socket.
If we want to keep the ball in the socket, we need to know where the socket (shoulder blade) is, if we want to know where the shoulder blade is we need to know where the ribs are, and if we want to know where the ribs are we need to know how they move – which means we need to know how we breathe.
Attempting to strengthen the rotator cuff of a misaligned joint is a little arranging the deckchairs on the titanic – it may seem productive if we only look at those details – but if we look at the bigger picture we understand there is a lot more going on, and some more important things to consider!
I made this video to demonstrate the correlation between breathing mechanics and shoulder range of motion, and we can see just 5 breaths of air elicit more change than months of stretching.
If you’re interested in leaving more about how and why to assess your clients, and how to create lasting change in how they move, you can check out the Strategic Strength Online Course, created by myself and Tony Genticore. Details here