Shoulder Pain – Part 3 – A Cause of Shoulder Impingement Pain and an Exercise to Help


Here we are. Last week of the shoulder series. We started with the shoulder joint itself not moving enough. We then moved on to the shoulder blade being too mobile. We’ll end on the shoulder blade not moving enough or a cause of shoulder impingement.

We see this more often in individuals that have very stiff mid backs or those who are hunched over doing hours of work right in front of them, a surgeon for example. The lack of movement in the shoulder blade and the lack of extension in the mid-back become problematic.

As it true with most things in life, if you don’t use it, you lose it. The same rings true for mid back and scapular mobility. The two go hand-in-hand. So those that are constantly working with their hands right in front of them, the back stiffens and the shoulder blades lose their range of motion because they rarely use those motions.

The body though, will still find a way of doing the random motions you ask it to. So movements that ordinarily would require the mid back to extend and the shoulder blade to glide back can’t. Now, since those two things can’t happen, the shoulder joint itself ends up moving more than it wants to. This can lead to shoulder impingement syndromes. Often practitioners will focus too much on where that impingement pain is and lose track of what is actually causing the shoulder impingement to happen in the first place. The need for mid back extension and shoulder blade mobility.

An exercise we commonly use to address this vary complication, is the triplanar scapular mobilization. Through a full body movement we’ll drive mid back extension through shoulder blade movement; improving both.

Starting off, you’ll do an elephant trunk motion. You’ll swing the arm behind your body, as you bend forward, then straightening up you’ll throw your arm over your and reach up and extend backwards.

elephant trunk stretch

The next motion is the punch. Do your best Rocky impression and wind that arm as much behind you as you can. Now you twist around, punching to the other side as far as your body will rotate.

rocky stretch

Last, is the “C” movement. With this you’ll pretend you’re doing the “C” from YMCA, but with only one arm. So, you’ll bring your arm, palm up below your chest and in front of you to the opposite side. Then in a big, sweeping, arcing motion, you’ll bring it back across your body, out to the same side, up over your head and back to the opposite side, forming a “C.”

C stretch

Each of these movements, you’ll repeat 15 times and on both sides for three sets.

If this doesn’t fully resolve your issue, you are having a hard time figuring it out, or you know someone that might benefit from our services, be sure to schedule from our website or call 913-341-1200.