Do you sit behind computer for a long period of time, or you work in a factory in an unpleasant position? Do you feel unpleasant stiffness and pain in the area of: shoulders, neck, shoulder blades and front side of the upper trunk?
All that can be caused by a wrong position of your shoulders, which in 21st centuries is affecting more and more people, than in times when people had enough movement. Slouched static back position is becoming more and more typical by children and adolescents since they spend long time in such position in schools and at home on a couch.
Very common result of such subconscious body posture is incorrect shoulder position in so called protraction. That is when shoulders are in a position directed forwards and slightly upwards. Muscles in the neck area, shoulder blades and trunk from the front and back side are getting into uneven pressure which leads to imbalance due to shortened and weakened muscles.
Shoulders are in unfavorable position when they are pushed forwards. That forces us to stay in this position, to which our body has to adapt. And it’s not like our body is enjoying it, but unfortunately after some time it gets used to it by shortening the muscles and ligaments, and the other side of the body tends to get weakened. The weakening is caused by persistent shortening and activation of the muscles on the front side. Muscles on the front side of the trunk are therefore “disconnecting” muscles on the back side of the trunk from their function and activation. The disconnected muscles are then deflected from their original position. That creates muscle imbalance. When some areas are not used, the body gets used to it and creates its own but unfavorable positions for other organs and parts of our body.
Similar example can be shortened hamstrings (muscles of the back side of the thighs). One of the reasons can be that we tend to bend our knees throughout the day. Such posture can affect the shortened muscle of the pelvis and its position.
DANGEROUS OR JUST UNPLEASANT TENSION?
Incorrect basic shoulder position and also default position of the shoulder bone, placed in the shoulder blade causes all kind of chain reaction disorders, from hands, elbows to shoulders and trunk. Incorrect positions disturb the ergonomic muscle stereotypes. Which means that it affects the correct involvement of the muscles into the specific movement. The biggest complications are during excessive involvement into movement or during sudden absence of activation during movement. We are slowly getting to the root of the problem.
EVERYTHING STARTS USUALLY BY SHORTENED MUSCLES
Most frequent shortened muscles are:
- Chest muscles - they pull shoulders forwards and at the same time they stretch the back muscles under the shoulder blades and muscles from the inner side of the blades into problematic position making the activation of the muscles placed in the area of the lower part of the shoulder blades impossible.
- Trapezius muscles - these muscles are pulling the whole shoulder girdle through shoulder blade up towards your ears, and they also disrupt the physiological position of the shoulder blades and muscles attached to it.
Long-term affectioning of the shortened muscles starts to create changes in the weakened muscles, among which are also already mentioned ones, the lower fixators of the shoulder blades and flexors of the blades.
Devaluation of the basic position of the shoulder, and thus also the default position of the shoulder bone, inserted in the shoulder blade, which can cause a whole lot of disorders in hands, elbows, shoulders and trunk. Improper position distorts ergonomic muscle stereotypes, such as the correct involvement of the muscles in a specific motion. The biggest complications are happening during an excessive involvement of specific muscles into the motion.
Most frequent relating disorders to the musculoskeletal system are:
- Painful trapezius muscles
- Painful levator scapulae muscle
- Protruding shoulder blades
- Increased muscle tension of the chest muscles can affect rib position
The main goal in physiotherapy is to relax the shortened and overloaded soft tissues, skin, muscles and ligaments. On the other hand it is important to involve the weakened muscle groups into a correct stereotype. To reach the correct stereotype is a long and difficult journey, till patient is able to learn the correct movement and control it.
Correction with kinesio tape
After correct positioning of the shoulder, it is possible to fix the position with elastic kinesio tape. The advantage of kinesio tape is the possibility to move with minimal restriction in the movement range. It also helps to keep the muscles in correct position. In case the muscle moves out of the correct position, the tape will pull the person and warn him/her to return back to the original position.
Author: FYZIOklinika physiotherapy Ltd., Prague, Czech Republic
Source: Clinical experience in private practice and physiotherapeutic field, FYZIOklinika