Avoid shoulder pain and be able to concentrate on your work in comfort. Painful shoulders and upper back is a big problem for many people. I see many clients who come for help due to this problem. It is persistent and easily becomes a nagging distraction from work. However if you can understand why this happens, you can take measures to avoid shoulder pain.

We get busy at work during the day and inevitably this involves us leaning forward, often reaching to use a computer mouse at a desk, leaning into a computer screen. Generally being busy at the front of our bodies can throw us into a forward leaning stance.

The Mechanics of shoulder pain:

If we lean forwards on a regular basis the muscles and soft tissue fascia will tighten at the front of our chests.

When your chest area tightens, we rarely feel it over the tightened area. Instead we can notice a pain on the other side of our body, around the upper back and scapula area. Here shoulder pain can set in.

  • The muscles in this upper back area are beginning to be stretched and pulled out of alignment by the bones.
  • The bones are being pulled this way by the tightened pectoral muscles of the chest.
  • Pain occurs in the overstretched back area.
  • Often the head is in a forward stance and tipped backwards slightly to counterbalance, which then squashes all the little muscles at the top of the neck, under the rim of the skull, causing head pain as well.
  • Over a period of time this tightness can pull on the bones of the shoulder girdle and tip the scapula forwards. The scapula can get the appearance of winging up away from the back of the ribs. In a more comfortable position the scapula normally lies flat against the ribs.

Avoid shoulder pain - Lucy Dunleavy

Look at the diagram and see how squashed the whole of the abdomen becomes in this posture. All your organs within this area also become compressed in this position.

The range of bad postural consequences:

  • Your diaphragm does not have room to expand properly, so you are unable to breathe well and oxygenate your body.
  • Your resulting shallow breathing will tighten your neck muscles, causing neck and arm pain.
  • Your thinking can be impaired from lack of oxygen and you start to feel tired and unable to concentrate as a result.
  • Blood flow can be restricted from compression, also resulting in tiredness
  • Your digestive system is compressed so unable to function at it’s best.
  • If you don’t move for long periods at a time, your hamstrings will tighten as they too are squashed between the chair seat and your body weight, potentially causing low back pain.

Simply understanding the effects this posture can have is half the battle. You need to adjust your seating position to enable a more upright pose, keeping the spine as straight as possible, all the way up to the crown of your head. If you feel tightness over the chest area it is easily addressed with a good deep tissue massage. Some simple stretches which you can do yourself as an ongoing routine can go a long way to keep future tightness at bay.