Why is Shoulder Stability Important?

Shoulder Stability


Why the shoulder blades are crucial for stability in our shoulder and how the rotator cuff helps.

What Is Shoulder Stability?

Often when talking about stability in your shoulder people mention the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is a series of 4 muscles and does play a big part when it comes to stability. However, a lack of stability of the shoulder blade leads to changes in the way the rotator cuff functions and increases the chances of getting a rotator cuff tear.

It also can lead to your shoulder being weaker and less powerful with overhead movements for athletes in swimming, throwing, or racquet sports causing your performance to decrease. It can also impact your daily life when you are trying to reach over your head, push in a chair, or even get dressed. If the shoulder blade isn’t in the right position, it decreases the amount of force and movement you are supposed to have.

Why is My Shoulder Stability Weak?

The shoulder is designed to be mobile and with a lot of movement. If you are used to experiencing shoulder pain or shoulder blade issues, you often will experience tightness in the muscles around your chest, neck, shoulder, and even down into your elbow.  For people over 40, this is largely due to the movements and positions we repeatedly do day after day and year after year.  For example, people with desk jobs are found seated at the desk with hands and arms stretched out in front of us and our heads falling forward.  This position over time weakens the muscles around our shoulder blades and tightens the muscles on the front.

A successful shoulder stability program will work to balance strengthening your rotator cuff and muscles around your shoulder blades and improving flexibility across the tight muscles on the front of the chest.

Watch this video to learn a couple of exercises to help with your shoulder mobility. Click Here.

Shoulder Diagram

What Is The Rotator Cuff?

The rotator cuff is a set of four muscles that originate behind the shoulder and wrap around the head of the arm bone. Hence the name rotator cuff because of the way it wraps around to help with rotation of the shoulder.  These muscles are very important in shoulder health because it improves shoulder stability of the shoulder so big, powerful muscles like the deltoid, trap, and lat can work effectively. It does this to keep everything in place, holding the head of the bone into the shoulder socket. It keeps everything stable as you move.

Do I Need Surgery When I Get a Tear in My Rotator Cuff?

Sometimes rotator tears can sound worse than they are. In reality, they can actually be very small and heal on their own with proper care from our physical therapy clinic in Arizona and education. If it is a small tear you can strengthen it to minimize the effects on your shoulder. You may not need surgery and getting surgery can also cause more damage.  Rotator cuffs can tear with trauma such as a fall or with just common age-related weakening of the tendon.

Click here to read another post about shoulder exercises.

How do I Avoid Putting Unnecessary Strain on My Shoulder?

Much strain comes from reaching or lifting overhead. While these movements are not bad these movements do put a lot of strain and compression on the shoulder joint and surrounding musculature.  When there is instability around the shoulder blade it puts more load on the rotator cuff muscles and can cause them to strain.  You can avoid this by being diligent about including rotator cuff exercises in your workout routine and including a stretch protocol for the arms and shoulders.

Check out how physical therapy can help you resolve your shoulder pain: https://preferredptaz.com/shoulder-pain/

There are better ways to do this type of overhead movement without putting so much strain on the shoulder. You can make sure your shoulders are pushed back and you are engaging your core when doing things overhead. If your shoulders are pushed more forward then your shoulders have to do more of the work than depending on your whole body to take some of the pressure.

Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

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