The shoulder is arguably the most complex mechanical structure of the body. There are several components that directly contribute to normal mechanics of shoulder movement. These components include the glenohumeral joint, acromioclavicular joint, sternoclavicular joint and the scapulothoracic joint. Loss of mobility in the thoracic spine, particularly with the extension of the spine, can play a role in limiting end range elevation of the shoulder. Over time, this loss of mobility can contribute to increased strain at soft tissue structures at the shoulder, causing inflammation and pain.
Being more aware of maintaining an upright posture and limiting the amount of time spent in slouched positions on a daily basis can help to minimize the risk of loss of mobility in the upper thoracic spine. An exercise that can help to improve upper thoracic mobility is using a foam roller as a self mobilization technique. Begin the exercise in supine position with the upper back placed directly on the foam roller with both elbows in front of face, fingers interlocked behind the neck for support, and both legs supporting body weight. Next, roll the upper back across the foam roller from high to low. You may allow the upper back to bend or fold around the foam roller while maintaining your hip height to promote greater thoracic spine extension mobility.
If you’re experiencing shoulder pain, schedule an appointment today for an in-depth evaluation before it becomes an injury!