This post is an extension of my Fitness Post this week because I think it is important that you understand that the major cause of shoulder problems is in your neck if the pain is not caused by injury. Even if the cause of shoulder pain was caused by a collision injury such as in a team sport, ongoing problems could be the result of poor posture in the upper and middle spinal structures.
Forward Head Posture is more prevalent these days because a good percentage of our time is spent in front of a computer screen or worse, texting on cellphones. The children of today will have even more issues with this because they use cellphones from a very early age and this alters their posture dramatically in that it straightens out their cervical spine (neck) and there are flow down effects in the curves of the lower spine (see photo above).
See the body as a series of kinetic chains of structures – one part is effected by the other.
So, as I said in my Fitness Post of this week, you need to correct the posture of the neck first before you can get any permanent positive results in dealing with shoulder problems. Even major corrective surgery such as complete shoulder replacement will not fix the problem (the horrific statistic of 79% of this type of surgery results in continued problems afterwards!)
If you look at the spine it has four natural curves (forwards at the neck, backwards at the chest, forwards at the lower back and forwards again at the tailbone). You can alter any problem at any age by regaining the movement in the spine and realigning the curves back into the natural positions. Most people say that you need to stretch and tight muscles and strengthen the weak ones but this is not a permanent solution without mobilizing the spinal bones. If you look at X-rays of people beyond the age of 20 you will find that there is some degeneration and unnatural bulges in the spinal discs. This causes pressure on the nerves further down the kinetic chain. (This is why you get associated pain in your buttocks and legs if you have a problem in your lower spine as I have explained in a previous post). The same idea applies in your neck if the structures are not in alignment and they are not mobile – so problems can occur in our chest, shoulders and arms. Problems in your neck are even more critical because there are 12 cranial nerves that come out of the spinal cord from the neck that feed the vital organs such as the heart and lungs. This impingement or pressure causes problems in these major organs.
I have spent some time explaining this so that you understand the basic idea behind why it is important for our complete health to correct any disfunction in the neck as a priority.
To correct the alignment of the neck you may need some adjustment by an experienced Chiropractic or Naturopathic practitioner but if you don’t want this treatment or to augment the work they do in re mobilizing the neck structures you can use a fitness band or similar and place it behind your lower skull while holding the ends out front of you at head height and push back against the pressure of the band (do it for 20 repetitions and three sets). But you also have to change how you hold your cell phone in lifting it higher when texting and place your computer screens at head height. (If you need to place a small box under the computer screen, do so). You can check out ideas in my previous posts on neck realignment exercises. There may be some pain initially as you disturb immobile joints but the pain will go as your neck comes back into alignment.
Don’t do any exercises above the head until your shoulder pain goes and start the shoulder exercise of gentle swinging with straight arms (the weight used of between 2 – 10 kilograms dependent on your strength level). I explained this exercise in my Fitness Post but I did not add to hold the dumbbells with your palms facing forwards.
So injuries such as the rotator cuff (small set of muscles that hold your upper arm bone into the socket of the shoulder) need to be dealt with in a sequence – neck first, use heat (not cold) on the site of the pain (you want the blood flowing through the joint); then gentle swinging exercises, then use dumbbells (holding them in a hammer position) in your major push and pull exercises then finally graduate to exercises for the upper body using a barbell.
Other health problems other than the shoulder injuries, elbow problems and syndromes to the wrist and hands caused by unnatural alignment and disfunction in the neck?
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart arrhythmia
- ‘Asthma’ and other misdiagnosed lung problems
- Sleep disorders
Please Note: forward head tilt may not be the only cause for the problems listed above, but it should be investigated as a possible cause!