Lately at the office, I’ve been dealing with a lot of “gunky” shoulders which have been leading to patients complaining of neck pain, mid back pain and headaches. When I say “gunky” I mean shoulders that won’t go through a normal, full range of motion. Sometimes these issues can be age-related degenerative conditions but, most of the time these “gunky” shoulders are due to faulty postures that have not allowed for full range of motion due to “adaptive complacency”. Adaptive complacency is a coined term signifying when we stop paying attention to stimuli we encounter, we lose control over our health. How this relates to our “sticky” shoulders is that our muscles, ligaments and tendons all tighten to adapt to our poor postures (internally rotated shoulders). This is evident in our stooped, forward postures often seen not only in older population, but also in children and middle aged persons. Today we tend to spend so much time folded forward in our computers, tablets and phones, and the longer we hold these positions, the more fiercely the soft tissue around these joints adapts. These restrictions lead to muscle spasm, pain and/or limitations in ranges of motion the longer they are left untreated. As other muscles are recruited by the brain to make up strength or the range of motion of the affected joint, issue arise above and below the shoulder leading us to believe our shoulder “worked itself out”. A simple way to combat these soft tissue issues is to use the shoulder joint in every degree of motion on a daily basis. Reach overhead, reach behind, touch the opposite top of shoulder blade, then reach the bottom of opposite shoulder blade. If you can’t do these things, try as far as your body will let you just before pain. Over time, you will find yourself reaching further and further. Clean your windows, “wax on/wax off”, scrub the counters. When you go one direction, go the other. If this seems monotonous or repetitious good. If you hate this…good. Go figure another way to achieve the goal of “rolling” the shoulders back and preventing stooped shoulder posture. What I can promise you is that if you sit on Facebook, play video games, crochet, yell at the news/ president from your recliner and don’t give your body some TLC and challenge its ranges and ability, it won’t get better, it’ll get worse. And the longer you wait to do something about it, the longer it will take to bounce back. Hence the saying if you don’t use it, you lose it.
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