How To Fix Shoulder Pain: Improving Mid Back Mobility

When it comes to how to fix shoulder pain, there is a difference between pain relief and long term solutions. Pain relief is easy. Pills, injections, stretches can all temporarily mask shoulder pain. But if you’re serious about learning how to fix shoulder pain in the long term, you’ll need to correct the underlying root causes. Improving mid back mobility is a great place to start.

How A Stiff Mid Back Leads To Shoulder Pain

Shoulder movement is directly linked with your mid back (or thoracic spine) movement.  Stiffness in the mid back leads to limitations in shoulder movement that cause increased strain on the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the shoulder. These limitations lead to pain for anyone who uses their shoulders a lot for work or exercise.

Stiffness in the mid back limits shoulder movement and stresses the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the shoulder leading to pain.

Is Your Shoulder Pain Caused By A Mobility Issue?

Not everyone with shoulder pain has a stiff mid back. Before beginning a mid back mobility routine to fix shoulder pain you’ll want to make sure these exercises are going to be beneficial for you. 

This can easily be done with the ‘Wall Angel’ test. To perform:

  1. Lean up against a wall
  2. Place pelvis, mid back, and back of head against the wall
  3. Bring your arms out to 90 degrees and place your elbows and fingers against the wall
  4. Try to flatten your wrists while keeping your fingers and elbows flat against the wall
An inability to get your elbows, fingers, and wrists against the wall suggests limitations in mid back mobility. You will also most likely feel the stiffness/tightness with this test if there is a mobility issue. 

If this assessment is easy for you, this suggests your shoulder pain is not a mobility issue. You should focus on strength and stability to fix your shoulder pain instead.
Watch the video below to have me walk you through how to perform and interpret the Wall Angel test

How To Fix Shoulder Pain With Mid Back Mobility

Once you’ve determined the need for mid back mobility exercises the fix for shoulder pain is easy. All you need is the right exercises, patience, and consistency. Most mid back stiffness is caused by long hours of rounding forward (flexion) of the spine. Which is why mobilizing our spine into extension is the most important place to start. The following two exercises are the BEST at improving extension of the thoracic spine.

Rotation is another common limitation in our mid back that leads to shoulder pain. Improving mid back rotation with the following exercises is also recomended.

Remember, mid back stiffness develops over YEARS of being rounded forward. Improving mid back mobility takes time. Be patient and stay consistent. Keep a consistent mobility routine with these exercises and you will be on your way to fixing shoulder pain for good.

To sum it all up, shoulder pain isn’t a always a shoulder issue. Most times it’s a movement issue that leads to an increased strain on the shoulder. Increasing mid back mobility improves movement of the shoulder. This leads to less strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the shoulder. By addressing these root causes you can successfuly fix shoulder pain, keep active, and maintain your lifestyle as you get older.

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