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Do Some Arm Movements Give You Trouble?

Do you ever feel a twinge in your shoulder when you move your arm(s) in a certain way? 

Maybe it is when you lift your arm a little too high when reaching into the cabinet or bringing your arm down.  Perhaps it is not in your shoulder but more in your neck you feel the discomfort.

There are several muscles that connect your shoulder to your neck, thus why when you move your head or neck you may feel discomfort in one or the other.

There are two primary movements of the arms, pushing and pulling.  How you perform pushing and pulling patterns when exercising and during your daily life can affect how 'good' your arms, head, neck, and ribs will feel.

Today we will look specifically at the concept of pushing.  In everyday life, we push a shopping cart, a. door, a lawn mower, a stroller, a suitcase, and more.  When exercising we push a chest press, overhead press, a cable press, a sled, and others.

An important concept is how we do anything is how we do everything.  How you train the push pattern during exercise, repetition after repetition will translate into how you perform the movement in everyday life.  Thus, it would make good sense to perform it well while exercising.

Let's start with the setup of the push patterns.  Always remember, to set up, before you load up or start moving. Think of it as securing the ladder before you start climbing. You don't want the ladder to be unstable once you start climbing.

Look at the pictures below:

1. You want to set and maintain length from the back of the head toward the ceiling.

2. You want to set and think length through the collar bones and shoulders.

When you set up in this fashion, you are putting the joints and muscles of your neck and shoulder in the best alignment for moving and loading with weight or resistance.

Next, we need to move while maintaining the optimal alignment that we used in the setup.  The best way to do that is to maintain three-dimensional breathing which helps with stabilizing and supporting our spine and shoulders.  Then we need to move using weight and resistance that allows us to continue using proper alignment.

You may be thinking that setup above is different than what we hear or are coached.  Often, the cue is to pull the shoulders down and back.  This cue is contrary to how our shoulders and shoulder blades are meant to move.  This cue and movement can feed into the reason for the pinching or discomfort you feel when reaching your arm overhead.

Below is a collection of This.  Not That. photos of common compensations used during push patterns if overhead, seated, bench, etc.

Finally, when we press as in a cable press pattern, the shoulder or shoulder blade should not roll forward, rather, it should wrap around our rib cage.  This happens when muscles are too tight around our shoulders and shoulder blades and can cause impingement due to the tightness.

Hopefully, you can see why the cue of pulling the shoulders down and back is not a good cue for supporting proper shoulder movement. 

Arching of the back is another common way in which we move when we do not have the full range of movement in the shoulder joint. Perhaps if you feel chronic back discomfort and know you do not have great motion in your shoulder you may be arching your back and this could be contributing to your back discomfort. 

 If you feel the information today is resonating with you or you are questioning if this may be what you are feeling in your body, reach out and let's chat and brainstorm about your goals. We would love to explore how we could help you!


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