Five Things to Know About Your Shoulders
Oct 31, 2014 11:47PM
By Ken DiPersio
Shoulders are very complex joints that support your neck, head and a full range of arm movement. When you have a shoulder problem that is not remedied by traditional joint and muscle therapy, consider the following.
It takes four joints to move your arm. Your shoulder includes four bones and four joints that allow rotation, lift and serve as attachment for muscles. The strength and flexibility of the arm and shoulder depend on balance and cooperation among the four joints. Each single joint depends on the integrity and support of the others. With all four joints in balance, you can move efficiently.
Your collarbones (clavicles) are made of a spongy type of bone. They provide rigid support for the suspended shoulder blades and arms to move freely, and are designed to absorb force by compressing when the shoulders receive impact. As a result of forceful impact, the clavicle may not “hold” the shoulder blade (scapula) in its proper position, requiring compensation from other shoulder joints and muscles. When out of balance and compensating, movement can be limited or difficult.
Connective tissue fascia wraps the organs in your abdomen and your chest, up under your clavicles and into the head and neck. Through this fascial connection, stress in the shoulders can influence the organs, and stress in organs can contribute stress to your shoulders.
We learn to crawl in contralateral motion: right arm/left leg move together and left arm/right leg move together. Our nervous system is trained by this complex pattern, and it manages posture, coordination, balance and movements, like walking and running. This strength pattern provides stability from shoulders to opposite hips. Because of this, we often need to evaluate overstress in a hip as having negative influence on the opposite shoulder.
Arguably, the safest you have ever been is in a fully protected embryonic state. Your normal position for that safe development is the fetal position. During times of extreme stress or vulnerability, due to injury, surgery or other trauma, your body posture may automatically revert back to a protective “flexion” position. The shoulders roll forward, the chest collapses inward to protect heart and lungs, the shoulders may rise up to protect the neck and head as the body compresses toward your center. Over time, flexion posture can cause pain, decrease range of motion in the shoulders and permanently distort posture.
Let’s look at the whole picture. I see many people with muscle pain and limited movement in their shoulders. It helps to work with muscles, but muscles alone are often not enough. We need to understand and consider original patterns for health, relationships of the shoulders to other structures such as organs, cross crawling patterns for proper nervous system function and embryological patterns for safety.
Ken DiPersio, BCST, CST-T, NMT, LMT is a Florida Licensed Massage Therapist with 25 years of experience treating infant to elderly clients. He earned certification in Neuromuscular Therapy, Biomechanical Craniosacral, and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, and practices CST at Full Spectrum Health in Sarasota.