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The Habits That a Physical Therapist Recommends You to Cease for the Benefit of Your Achy Shoulders

Shoulder pain affects approximately one in every four adults at any given time, not only due to acute or chronic injuries from sports or weightlifting but also because of everyday habits. These habits can contribute to muscle imbalances, strains, and overuse injuries in the shoulders, explains Lara Heimann, DPT, a physical therapist and the founder of the LYT Method. Dr. Heimann emphasizes that the complex anatomy surrounding the shoulder joint makes it susceptible to muscle aches due to its wide range of motion.

Common causes of shoulder discomfort include bad posture and activities that overstress the shoulders, notes Dr. Heimann. She highlights several prevalent habits that can lead to shoulder pain and discusses surprising factors that can exacerbate shoulder discomfort.

What Triggers Shoulder Pain Most Frequently?

Poor posture, particularly rounded shoulders resulting from slouching, can place additional strain on the muscles, causing tension and pain, notes Dr. Heimann. Moreover, activities or exercises that put excessive strain on the shoulders can lead to muscle strain.

Below are the specific everyday habits identified by Dr. Heimann that can provoke or intensify shoulder pain:

1. Sitting with Poor Posture

Behaviour: Prolonged slouching or hunching over a desk can stress the shoulders.

Remedy: Maintain an upright sitting posture with your head aligned over your neck and your shoulders in a neutral position. Take regular breaks every 30 minutes to stand, stretch, and readjust your posture.

2. Lifting Overhead with Incorrect Form

Behaviour: Reaching or lifting overhead with improper technique can strain the muscles and joints in the shoulders.

Remedy: Use a step stool or ladder when reaching for items, and engage your core while lifting with your hips and legs when reaching overhead.

3. Carrying Heavy Bags on One Shoulder

Behaviour: Carrying heavy bags on one shoulder can create muscle imbalances and strain.

Remedy: Utilize a backpack or distribute the weight evenly in a shoulder bag, adjusting the straps to keep the bag close to your body.

4. Excessive Phone Usage

Behaviour: Holding your phone between your shoulder and ear during calls can strain your neck and shoulder muscles. Texting or using your phone with poor posture can stress the neck and shoulders.

Remedy: Utilize a hands-free device or speakerphone when taking calls and elevate the phone to eye level when texting.

5. Sleeping on Your Stomach

Behaviour: Sleeping on your stomach can cause misalignment in the neck and shoulders.

Remedy: Sleep on your back or side with a supportive pillow, maintaining the natural curve of your neck.

Can Building Strength or Engaging in Stretching Exercises Alleviate Shoulder Pain?

Dr. Heimann suggests that strength training and stretching can help reduce shoulder pain caused by poor ergonomics, muscle imbalances, or overuse. Targeted exercises can improve stability, support, flexibility, and overall shoulder range of motion.

When engaging in strength training, focus on exercises specific to the shoulders, including those targeting the rotator cuff muscles. Pay careful attention to your form and the weights you use to prevent overloading of the shoulders. Bodyweight exercises such as planks and push-ups can also aid in building shoulder and core strength.

As for stretching, concentrate on the chest, shoulders, and upper back through exercises like doorway stretches, shoulder rotations, and neck stretches. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds and perform them regularly.

Dr. Heimann stresses the importance of addressing poor ergonomics and posture when dealing with shoulder pain. Integrating these interventions into a lifestyle that promotes overall musculoskeletal health is crucial in the effective prevention and treatment of shoulder pain. Should shoulder pain persist, it is advisable to consult a healthcare provider or a physical therapist.

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