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Shoulder pain is one of the more common diagnoses we see here at Core PT & Performance. And, it’s one of our favorite things to treat! The shoulder joint is way more complicated than most people think. Mainly because the shoulder is heavily influenced by what is (or isn’t) happening with your thoracic spine (mid back) and scapula (shoulder blade). Not all shoulder pain can be chalked up to “rotator cuff tendonitis”. That’s very much a blanket diagnosis. Sure, you may have some rotator cuff irritation, but the better question is: why? We find that when we assess people who have shoulder pain, we often find lack of movement in their thoracic spine as well as weakness through their shoulder blade musculature. If these things are true, then your rotator cuff is going to work much harder than it wants to, and maybe even get some impingement or “pinching” with movement like reaching overhead or behind your back. Over time, these bad movement patterns are going to cause inflammation or repetitive irritation and result in pain.

Lucky for you, we have a few suggestions on where to start to manage these symptoms and start to get your body moving better.

Here are three things you can try at home:

  1. Thoracic extension over a foam roller - start by lying over the foam roller, with your hips on the floor. Hands come behind your head, or across your chest, and let your back extend over the roller. Do about 10 repetitions.

  2. Lat band stretch - this is one of our favorites for helping regain some overhead motion. Do this for about 30seconds on each side.

  3. Prone T - lying on your stomach, either over a bench/ball or on the edge of your bed, keep the arms straight and lift towards the ceiling. The goal here is to squeeze your shoulder blades together. This will start to get the ball rolling in terms of shoulder blade strength. Only lift in a pain free range of motion. Try 2 sets of 10reps, body weight only for the time being!

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