How Your Posture Affects Your Shoulders

How Your Posture Affects Your Shoulders

June 4, 2024

Shoulder pain is a very common complaint and can make daily tasks like reaching overhead, lifting, and sleeping difficult. For many patients, shoulder pain can be related to their poor postural habits. Poor postural habits and prolonged slumped positions make the shoulder more vulnerable to pain or injury. 

Upper crossed syndrome (UCS) is a common condition that contributes to shoulder pain. UCS presents with postural changes that affect how the muscles of the upper back and shoulder girdle function, which can affect the movement patterns of the entire upper quarter. 

Signs of upper crossed syndrome include:

  • Forward head posture – the head is in a forward position relative to the shoulders

  • Rounded shoulders – the shoulders are rounded forward, causing the upper back to be “hunched”

  • Increased thoracic kyphosis – the upper back has an increased rounded curve

  • Protracted shoulder blades – shoulder blades are more forward in position and further away from the spine

  • Weak deep neck flexors – the stabilizing muscles at the front of the neck are weak

  • Tight pectoral muscles – the chest muscles are tight and can contribute to the rounded shoulder posture

  • Weak scapular stabilizers – the stabilizing muscles of the shoulder blades are weak, which can lead to abnormal movement patterns

Although many people present with signs of UCS, not all people will have the same symptoms. Many people with UCS can experience shoulder pain, limited range of motion, and impaired muscle function. 

How physical therapy can help resolve your shoulder pain

The first step to address your shoulder pain is a thorough evaluation. At Elite Muscle Recovery, we spend an hour one on one with you to get a comprehensive history of your symptoms, to hear more about your lifestyle, activities, and goals, and to assess your posture, range of motion, strength, and function. 

Based on this thorough assessment, we will design a unique treatment plan that includes manual therapy to relieve symptoms and improve range of motion, as well as a progressive exercise program to address postural, strength, flexibility, coordination, and endurance deficits. These exercises may include working on spinal mobility and improving postural strength. Treatment will also include education on how you are holding and moving your body and ways to maximize mobility and minimize pain. 

If you are experiencing shoulder pain, limited range of motion, or discomfort in your upper body, reach out to Elite Muscle Recovery for a comprehensive assessment and personalized treatment plan designed to address muscle imbalance, improve posture, and provide pain relief!