Wondering why your back hurts? Why do you shoulder’s feel creaky? It could be down to your posture. Your training and what you do daily greatly influences how your body changes and adapts- this effects muscle and the connective tissue attached.

What goes on at the shoulder is greatly affected by the various muscular attachments. If some of the muscles are short (or indeed if some of the muscles are weak) then you may not be able to get your arms overhead properly.  If you are not strong enough around the core/ abdominals then you may see excessive movement in the back. Why does the back move? To create movement compensating for weakness or tightness around the shoulders allowing the arms to continue their path overhead. This is shown in the picture below- the hands are overhead but the pelvis is in an anterior tilt putting strain on the lower back.

What you may also see is that the arms reach out in front of the body and the upper back appears rounded. If dysfunctional movement occurs repeatadly e.g. your run around with your hands overhead daily or more realistically you do stacks of overhead training (such as shoulder presses, swimming or most throwing sports) you can end up with pain in the lower back or the shoulder. This is usually related to weak scapular retractors, weak scapular depressors and poor upper back mobility. It can also occur because of tight biceps- see the picture following:

Notice how the arms are flexed- the biceps have an attachment point on the scapula where it also plays a role in movement and stability.

What can we do, or most importantly what exercises do you need to include in your programme to remedy this. First stop is some static stretching for the chest and lats, mobility work for the upper back such as foam rolling or if you can afford it some massage (as if you needed an excuse!). Row based work for the scapular retractors and wall slides for the scapular depressors help with developing strength and balance to the shoulder region. It also highlights that all shoulder pain is not remedied by holding an elastic band and doing external rotations favoured by a lot of “rehab” specialists- in short there is so much more going on at the shoulder joint- escpecially in active individual’s.  The abdominals also play a big role- core strength in this sense needs to be trained to resist extension- this is what occurs when the hands go overhead and the back hyper extends. Exercises that resist extensions are things like ball roll outs and the ever popular ab wheel that you will often see on the shopping channels (as a tip I brought one from Amazon- the postage cost more than the wheel).

If you are performing a shoulder press in your programme (not always a bad thing) make sure the exercise looks right.

Above you can see that although the arms are extended there is a slight anterior tilt in the pelvis- I would probably say that if you had this type of set up or any more excessive curve in the lower back a good dose of core training and shoulder mobility work should be performed before integrating this movement back in to your programme. If you are an athlete competing in an “overhead” sport consider the implications of extra overhead work- quite simply it may not be necessary.

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