How Sitting Affects Your Shoulders
By: Katie Wolfley, PT DPT
Do you struggle with shoulder aches or pain?
If so, think about the number of hours you spend sitting each week.
If you work at a computer or spend the majority of your work week sitting, that’s upwards of 1,920 hours a year — and that doesn’t include time spent driving to and from work, eating, sitting to watch TV, or sitting to read your favorite book.
While it may seem like we’re telling you to never sit again, we assure you, that is not the case. That said, it’s important to understand the effects prolonged sitting has on your shoulders.
Shoulder Pain from Sitting
We have all found ourselves slouched over the keyboard, yet we wonder why our necks and shoulders are constantly bothering us.
Sitting in a slouched position causes the upper back to bend forward, ultimately changing the position of the shoulder blades as they tip forward and wrap outwards to accommodate a slouch.
Over time, slouching alters how our shoulder blades move. One study reported that simply having subjects sit up tall as opposed to slouching significantly improved their ability to lift their arms overhead (1).
Sitting in a slouched posture will decrease the “subacromial space,” the space between the shoulder blade and upper arm bone. The rotator cuff muscles lie within this space.
As the space decreases, it can lead to increased pressure and rubbing on the rotator cuff. After several weeks, months, or even years of this rubbing, it causes “wear and tear” on the rotator cuff, leading to pain.
Sitting alone won’t cause this breakdown, but poor posture will. The good news is you can start to improve your posture right at your desk or from the couch!
While good posture will not happen overnight, try the three simple exercises shown in the video above to keep your neck and shoulders happy while you take back control of how you sit.
1. Matthews, Charles E, et al. “Amount of Time Spent in Sedentary Behaviors in the United States, 2003–2004.” American Journal of Epidemiology, vol. 167, no. 7, Apr. 2008, pp. 875–881.
2. Lewis JS. Subacromial Impingement Syndrome: The Effect of Changing Posture on Shoulder Range of Movement. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. 2005. doi:10.2519/jospt.2005.1578.
Do you struggle with shoulder pain?
If you’re experiencing shoulder aches or pain and would like a more personalized approach to improving posture and finding relief, our Physical and Occupational Therapists can help.
Treatment is covered by insurance, no referral is needed to start, and with flexible in-clinic and virtual appointments available, you can find a time that works with your schedule.
Call 716-458-1990 or click the button below to schedule: