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  • Writer's pictureLisa Magnuson

How to Address the Complexity of your Shoulder Joint

This week's challenge involves developing better motion through your shoulder joint.

Your shoulder is a complex joint and is more complicated than just a ball-and-socket like the hip. The shoulders' ball-and-socket Glenohumeral Joint (GH) is much shallower than your hip and is also comprised of many smaller joints; the Acromioclavicular Joint (AC), the Sternoclavicular Joint (SC), and a "floating joint" known as the Scapulothoracic Joint (ST). With more joints involved in the motion we need to first understand where things are positioned before we passively stretch. By first positioning effectively, we then have a better idea we are stretching/mobilizing the correct muscles.

It is extremely important when working on shoulder mobility to understand how you are aligning the thoracic spine. Many of us are stuck in too much thoracic flexion (see figure on the right) which will decrease the amount of shoulder flexion that can be safely addressed. This is why we highly encourage mobilizing your upper back daily and backing that up with strengthening exercises to help keep it in extension throughout the day.

Watch the video and explore these shoulder mobility movements that I've put together. These are just a few of hundreds of mobility exercises for the shoulder. Mobility of all joints consists of three muscular contractions; concentric (muscle shortening), eccentric (muscle lengthening), and isometric (muscle tensioning without motion) under continuous control helping to develop pain-free coordination.

As always if you have pain don't keep pushing through. Instead, we would rather you regress and work on other movements that still positively address pain-free motion for the joint.

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