As society has become more technology-driven, our posture has suffered. Poor posture is almost always linked to neck or back pain, but it actually reaches further than just there. There’s no doubt that poor posture leads to neck and back issues, but our shoulder is often overlooked.
In this article, we will cover:
- How sitting slouched causes shoulder pain
- An exercise to help improve shoulder blade movement
Improper Movement Causes Injury
Sitting in a slouched position causes our upper back to move forward, changing the position of our shoulder blades. This ultimately alters the way our shoulder blades move. Proper shoulder blade movement is critical to shoulder motion, strength, and function.
Improper movement at the shoulder blade due to tightness and weakness can often result in an injury to the rotator cuff. Most shoulder injuries gradually occur and are free of a specific incident causing the pain. Overtime, poor movement between the shoulder blade, shoulder, and spine can cause pinching of the rotator cuff against the bone shelf. This is known as shoulder impingement. Poor movement over a long period of time can lead to accelerated “wear and tear”, tendonitis, or tendinosis.
How Bad Posture Causes Shoulder Pain
As we know, prolonged sitting has become the norm for work. Millions of people who sit throughout the day are adapting a bad sitting position that is carrying over to standing and walking. This slouched posture misaligns the shoulder blades resulting in the inability to correctly move our shoulders. One study reported that with healthy subjects placed into a slouched position shoulder movement to the side and overhead decreased by nearly 15%. (1) So, ultimately sitting slouched doesn’t allow the shoulder blade and shoulder to move on the proper path.
To add to it, by being in a slouched position, our mid-back also tightens. Our mid-back’s primary goal is to help us rotate. If we aren’t moving well through our mid-back, it puts more strain on our shoulders and shoulder blades since the muscles that control the shoulder attach to our spine.
The good thing is that there are things you can do to prevent shoulder pain. Check out the video below to learn more about the relationship between your mid-back and shoulder blade and for an exercise you can do throughout the day to improve your mobility.
1. Kebaetse, Maikutlo, Phillip McClure, and Neal Pratt. “Thoracic Position Effect on Shoulder Range of Motion, Strength, and Three-Dimensional Scapular Kinematics.” Archive of Physical Medicine Rehabilitation 80 (1999):
2. Ludewig, Paula, and Thomas Cook. “Alterations in Shoulder Kinematics and Associated Muscle Activity in People With Symptoms of Shoulder Impingement.” Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association80.3 (n.d.): 276-91. Web.