Shoulder mobility is something that most people don’t think about until they start having an issue. The shoulder is an extremely mobile joint – the most mobile joint in the body. Given it is a ball and socket joint it can move in all directions as well as rotate. As humans, we tend to use our upper limbs and therefore our shoulders regularly, for a large variety of tasks. If the shoulder has too much or too little mobility this can cause issues. While technically the shoulder is comprised of more than just the ball and socket joint (gleno-humeral joint) for simplicity we’ll refer predominantly to the ball and socket joint in this blog.
Too much mobility can cause “instability” in the shoulder. This may be a result of an underlying injury, or damage to the stabilising structures which support the joint. If this is the case, then it is sometimes necessary to repair these structures using surgery. This type of shoulder injury can happen to athletes, especially as a result of contact sports. However, instability may also be a result of weakness or poor control of the shoulder muscles. For these cases, strengthening and conditioning can be very effective at restoring support and stability to the shoulder joint.
More commonly though, the shoulder is affected by a lack of mobility, rather than too much mobility. The stiffness feeling you get when the shoulder is not moving properly can sometimes develop into inflammation and pain. If you have limited mobility in your shoulder or have a history of shoulder problems and want to address these issues, there are things that can be done. While reduced mobility and range of movement is normal with age, or there is a history of injury, frozen shoulder or other anatomical reasons, it should still not impact on your daily use of the arm and shoulder. If shoulder movement is restricted or painful, then that’s usually a cue to do something to address it before it progresses.
Knowing what movements are affected helps you be more specific with your strategies and can indicate what may be causing the reduced mobility. Our physiotherapists are trained to assess and identify the cause of your shoulder problem. If the restriction you feel is more instantaneous and feels like a pinch or jamming, then impingement may be responsible. Whereas if you feel a steady build-up of tension or pulling, then muscle or tendon tightness may be causing your restriction. Accurate diagnosis is very useful to properly identify the cause and form a management plan.
Various combinations of stretches tend to be useful to address a number of contributing factors including:
- Upper back stiffness
- Shoulder joint and capsule/soft tissue tightness
- Posterior rotator cuff tightness
At Fairfield Physiotherapy, we regularly prescribe these stretches in a treatment regimen as they have different purposes and target different movements. Given the large range of movement, we require of the shoulder, relatively minor losses of movement can still cause restriction. Testing with these stretches to check where the restriction is and targeting that movement is a good place to start. If this doesn’t help, then a more thorough assessment and individually designed management strategies would be recommended. Our experienced team at Fairfield Physiotherapy is knowledgeable in the management of all types of shoulder conditions. Contact us on 94897744 today or book an appointment online to get started on your rehabilitation.