We expect pain and soreness in just about every muscle from the waist down when it comes to jogging, but why would we experience pain in the shoulders?
Many of us have some sort of postural imbalance where the shoulders aren’t lined up well. For just about everyone, there is muscle tension and stress that we keep in our neck and shoulders. This means that there might be decreased flexibility, mobility, health and strength leading to early muscle fatigue, pain and cramping. Treating the stress in the neck and shoulders with massage or acupuncture can free them up so that they perform better when jogging.
Another approach is to look at how we jog. Many jog in a way that increases shoulder tension. A quick check is to observe your hands. Are they loose or clenched into a fist? They should be loose. If they are clenched in a fist, then you are likely activating and clenching every muscle from your fingertips, arms and shoulders up to your neck when jogging. This constant tension leads to premature muscle fatigue and pain. A simple remedy is to be mindful of keeping your hands, arms and shoulders loose as you jog. It can be hard to be constantly thinking of your arms while jogging, so try this simple technique: touch your thumb to your middle finger lightly and keep it there the whole time that you are jogging. In this position it is really difficult to have any real tension in your arms and shoulders. The shoulders will stay loose and the pain will go away.
While I am not a runner, but chose to get my cardio doing other activity, for you all of you who are runners out there: have fun, stay healthy and loose.
The lower trapezius muscle helps to pull the shoulder blades back and down. It directly counteracts the pulling of the pectoralis minor muscle, which tries to pull the shoulder blades forward into a slouch. Unfortunately, we are usually stronger in our pectoralis minor chest muscle than we are in our lower trapezius back muscle, resulting in shoulders that are pulled forward. This forward shoulder posture gives us chronic neck and shoulder pain by putting the shoulder muscles in a state of constant tension as they are always being pulled and stretched.
Strengthening the lower trapezius muscle can bring balance to the shoulders and leave them in a more neutral, ergonomically efficient position. Here are some exercises that can help:
The second video does not have any narration, so focus on the movement. This exercise is perfect if you have a gym membership. If not, a Theraband can be all you need.
- Do the exercise slowly
- The thumb should be pointed towards the ceiling at the beginning and behind you at the end position.
- Start with the shoulder shrugged forward, then pull the shoulder blade back.
- Be careful to not over extend the shoulder to the point of feeling any pinching or sharp pain.
- Use only a small amount of weight/resistance. Form is the key component here. If you feel you are cheating to do the reps, remove some weight.
An interesting article regarding neck and shoulder pain:
I didn’t appreciate having a 3 inch growth spurt when I started high school. I remember my Mom always reminding me to stand up straight and watch my posture. It took me several years to truly appreciate my height. I now thank my Mom for helping me to be mindful of my posture.
Here is a link to an excellent article on posture. http://artofmanliness.com/2009/06/21/30-days-to-a-better-man-day-22-improve-your-posture/ The author explains the following:
Makes You Look Taller. Good posture adds an immediate inch or two to your height. Try it, you will be surprised.
Makes You Look More Confident. Good posture gives you an air of strength and confidence. Think about it… shoulders back, chest out, chin in….
Improves Organ Function. Slouching forces your rib cage to compress your organs decreasing their efficiency.
Reduces Tension and Pain in Your Neck, Shoulders, and Back. Most of the discomfort you feel from sitting at work comes from sitting improperly.
Increases Concentration and Mental Performance.
Prevents Beer Belly. Incorrect posture accentuates any belly fat you have while proper posture can hide it.
Here is a very interesting article on the causes of muscle cramps:
The article explains muscle cramps being caused by imbalance between nervous impulses, a sudden loss of electrolytes, and a poor training schedule.
Here are a few videos on rotator cuff stretches. This should be the initial step of any rotator cuff rehabilitation program
Guidelines for performing the stretches:
- Check with a health care professional before you attempt these exercises to ensure that it is safe for you.
- Do the exercises slowly and gently.
- Failing to follow the instructions or consult with a health care professional could cause your symptoms to worsen.
- Try to breathe slowly and keep your body relaxed. Do not tense up or hold your breath as this will invite muscle spasm.
- You should feel a very gentle stretching sensation, but you should not feel any pain during the exercises. Be particularly careful of any sharp or pinching pain. If you do experience pain, decrease the range of movement by stopping before you get to the point of pain. Continue the exercise within the pain free range.
- If you cannot find a comfortable, pain free way to perform these exercises, discontinue immediately and seek the advice of a health care professional.
- Do the exercises in a set of 3 for a minimum of 3 times a day for greatest results.
- Hold the stretch for a minimum of 15 seconds each time.
- Receiving massage or acupuncture treatments as part of your rehabilitation can advance your recovery.
Believe, it or not, the following are possible pain triggers: Flip flops, smart phones, your wallet, driving, active video games, cheese (bummer, because I love cheese), couch potato syndrome, your baby, etc…