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The Spine-Shoulder Pain Connection

In all movement, when the upper spine and neck lack flexibility, the shoulders are the joint that are then required to take over and make adjustments. Sounds simple enough. But what if the spine is also rounded forward as well as inflexible? The humerus or upper arm bone then has no choice but to move to a forward position, as it is attached to the spine via the collar bone and the scapula. Not designed to move from a forward position, the humerus, then starts to pull on it’s supporting tendons and ligaments creating friction where it should not be and what we feel as shoulder pain. Do this consistently (or abruptly in the case of a dislocation) and you may develop tendinitis, bursitis, even bony joint degeneration.


During my rehabilitation, it became vital for me to make sure that my spine was upright and that my shoulder would fall into it’s normal design position allowing it to be supported as best it could. However, I, like most of us, do many things that cause rounding and stiffness of the upper back – work long hours on a computer, commute, sit slumped while watching TV being just a few examples. With my dislocation, I no longer had the luxury of tolerating a spine that was not fully upright and vibrant and so I had to get more serious and increase my spinal flexibility.


I started with the often dreaded but wonderfully effective foam roller. In essence as your spine rolls over the roller, it allows each vertebral joint to start to separate from it’s neighbor above and below, creating more flexibility in the joints. Below you will find a link to some exercise videos that will guide you how to use a foam roller for the upper back.


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