Do you spend hours slumped over a keyboard or sitting hunched at a desk? Do you drag a heavy bag around on your shoulder wherever you go? Then you have everything you need to develop serious shoulder pain and lower back pain. Research by Ohio State University showed that shoulder pain is the most common medical complaint, followed by lower back pain and neck pain.
Shoulder pain and back pain can be extremely troublesome, affecting mobility, sleep patterns and overall quality of life. Researchers have found that shoulder pain is not necessarily caused by repetitive arm movements, or by long periods of sitting, but by our actual posture and arm position when seated. Here are some classic postures that can gradually put the whole spine out of alignment:
- Sitting slumped in a chair while watching TV
- Sitting round shouldered at a desk for hours at a time, with arms reaching forward (the classic keyboard position)
- Reaching forward or stretching to deal with youngsters
- Spending hours talking with the phone trapped between the shoulder and neck
- Doing workouts on the biceps and chest without compensating with strengthening back exercises
- Carrying heavy bags on one shoulder while using the free hand to reach and open doors
- Leaning on one leg while waiting or commuting on a bus or train
All these positions add further stress to the body in ways that nature never intended, inevitably causing acute or chronic shoulder pain.
The Real Cause of Shoulder Pain
After being forced out of alignment for many years, the shoulder joint can be extremely vulnerable to injury. The joint is supported by muscles in the shoulder area and lacks a supporting girdle of sturdy ligaments to keep it stable under duress.
That round-shouldered posture gradually causes the muscles in the front of the shoulder to shorten. At the same time, muscles between the shoulder blades and behind the shoulder joint are forced to stretch and lengthen. This enforced stretching and weakening of these muscles is prime for a final jolt or strain to cause seriously injury, causing nagging or intense shoulder pain.
Preventing Shoulder Pain Naturally
Step one in dealing with shoulder pain is being aware of the cause. Next you need to concentrate on exercises and posture to keep your body in alignment. Practicing daily exercises to stretch the shoulders and back using a foam roll can help correct and strengthen those shoulder muscles. Yoga is also an excellent way to expand and stretch the chest and shoulder area.
Finally, look critically at your working position, whether it is at an office desk, on the phone or hunched over a kitchen stove. Consciously stand tall and straight with your shoulders back to relieve that muscle strain and avoid unnecessary shoulder pain in later life.