Shoulder problems are one of the most common musculoskeletal complaints affecting approximately 7% to 21% (elderly) of the UK population. With the recent change in working habits, the fact that people are not commuting and often sitting in poorly ergonomic set up positions, this has become even more common.
Shoulder pathologies can be subdivided in:
1-Rotator cuff disorders
4-Acromioclavicular joint osteoarthritis
5-Glenohumeral joint osteoarthritis
6-Reffered Neck pain
For this blog, I will be reviewing rotator cuff disorders and suggesting some simple strategies to reduce the risk of developing this pathology.
Rotator cuff disorders refer to the muscles and tendons that surround and stabilise the shoulder joint. Rotator cuff disorders include rotator cuff tendinopathy and partial rotator cuff tears.
Rotator cuff pathology may include both subacromial impingement, bursitis and tendinopathy. The impingent takes place between the acromion and the and the rotator cuff tendons
Posture-This will include the position of your
1-Thoracic spine (mid and upper back)
2-Shoulder blade position
An increased flexed upper back (kyphotic curve) can decrease the natural range of motion of your shoulder and increase the risk of developing rotator cuff disorders. In this position the shoulder is forced forward by gravity and thus is unable to function efficiently.
Sitting at a desk for 8 hrs a day using a mouse can force the upper back to flex and over a long period, the spine can loose its elasticity and become chronically stiffen.
Thoracic mobility exercises are simple to perform and can be easily incorporated in your daily working from home routine.
Roll a towel in a cylindrical shape and place in the middle of your spine in a vertical position. Ensure to place 2 pillows under your head and to keep your knee bent.
I would recommend performing this for 5 minute a day.
Thoracic towel stretch
Foam roller upper thoracic spine rolling
Place the foam roller in your mid back, lift your bottom up in a horizontal position, support your neck and then use your legs to gently guide your body backwards and forwards. Repeat for 3 minutes.
Shoulder blade position
By sitting for long periods of time during the day, we will shorten our anterior shoulder muscular structures like the pectoral muscle system. In addition to this decreased activity and movement will cause weakening of the back shoulders support system, making us unable to maintain an efficient shoulder blade position.
To achieve a better postural position for our shoulder blades, I would recommend both stretching the anterior structures and strengthening the retracting muscle system of the shoulders.
Foam roller thoracic stretch
To achieve an effective pectoral stretch I would suggest using a foam roller. By placing a 90 cm x 15 cm foam roller along the spine.
Keep your knees bend and open your arms to maximise the stretching of your pectorals muscle system
Arm openings exercises
Laying on one side, place a pillow under your head. Keep your knee bent at 45 degrees and then gently rotate the arm around to stretch your chest muscles.
Shoulder blade strengthening exercises
Using ones own body weight against gravity is a quick and efficient way to build up shoulder blade muscle strength.
Laying face down on a yoga matt, roll a towel under your forehead. In this position gently pull your shoulder blades back together and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
To make the exercise more challenging, you can use a 1 kg weight or a can of beans.
To achieve a better shoulder position its key to strengthen the posterior rotator cuff muscle system. This in combination to a good back position and shoulder blade position its key to maintain good shoulder health.
Elastic band door pulls
Secure the elastic the band above the door by creating a knot. Gently pull and hold for 10 seconds x 10