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HOW DO YOUR SHOULDERS WORK?

Did you know your shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in your body? Your shoulder joint is the only joint that can flex (lift forward), extend (pull behind you), abduct (pull away from your body), adduct (pull into your body), rotate (both in towards the body and away from the body) and circumduct (move in circular patterns).

With all that movement, it’s no wonder why the shoulder joint is also one of the easiest joints to injure!

The shoulder joint is pretty complex and it’s not just the shoulder that makes all it’s movement happen.  Functionally speaking the shoulder girdle is where we get proper movement.

So you might be asking what’s the shoulder girdle?  Well the shoulder girdle breaks down into a few different bones, and they link together to provide stability to the entire shoulder region.

All the bones that affect the shoulder girdle function/movement:

-       Upper Arm (Humerus)

-       Shoulder Blade (Scapulae)

-       Collar Bone (Clavicle)

-       Upper Spine (Thoracic spine)

The upper arm (humerus) moves as a ball and socket joint with part of the shoulder blade and that is where we get most of our shoulder movement.  Without the shoulder girdle (shoulder blade, upper spine and collar bone) the shoulder would have nothing to stabilize it.  When the structure of the shoulder girdle does not stabilize the shoulder joint we typically see shoulder injury such as “grinding or clicking” noises and pains, rotator cuff tears, labrum tears, biceps tendonitis, etc.

If you have trained with me before, you have probably heard me say “all movement starts at the core” and I mean that.  In earlier articles we discussed what the core is and I defined it as everything excepts your arms and legs.  To me the shoulder girdle (shoulder blades, collar bones and upper spine) make up the top half of your core.  So whenever you start ANY upper body movement, you must stabilize you shoulder girdle (Chest up! Shoulders Back!) to allow your shoulder free motion without causing damage or pain.

To test what I mean, slouch as much as you can, then lift your arms as high up overhead as possible.  STAY SLOUCHED AND HOLD FOR A 5 COUNT.  What you should notice is… that it doesn’t feel good!  Imagine adding weight to that and doing it over and over again.  It’s painful and it will age you.

OK, let’s try it again, sit up as tall as possible and pinch your shoulder blades together and down, now lift your arms as high up overhead as possible.  YOU’RE YOUR SPINE TALL AND HOLD THOSE SHOULDER BLADES DOWN, FOR A 5 COUNT.  What you should notice is… MUSCLES WORKING!

When you slouch, your upper spine rounds and your shoulder blades slide as far from one another as they can.  This decreases shoulder stability.  Therefore when you move from the shoulder there is more possibility for pain and injury.

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