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Shoulder pain is common in people of all ages. It can be from chronic issues, previous injuries, or it can be from an acute injury. Regardless of how your pain started, there are ways to help improve your motion and strength while decreasing your pain.

The shoulder is a complex joint. It consists of many moving parts but it also requires a lot of strength and stability in order to support all of these moving parts. What most people do not know or realize, is that the actual movement of the shoulder depends on how your mid back (thoracic spine), the rib cage, and the shoulder blade (scapula) move. All of these individual pieces have to be mobile in order for the shoulder to have the proper movement. If not, then the body will try to compensate to move more elsewhere to avoid the stiffness. This causes excess stress on the shoulder joint itself and will start to cause pain and can also show decreased range of motion.

Specific mobility exercises and manual therapy from a Physical Therapist can help improve the mobility in the thoracic spine, rib cage, and the scapula. This will allow the shoulder to move properly which improves range of motion and decreases pain. Now you can start to strengthen the shoulder and do more activities without pain limiting you. Below are my favorite exercises to work on the thoracic spine, rib cage, and scapula.

Foam rolling for mid back. Roll from shoulder blade down to the end of the ribs. Don’t roll low back***


                      Starting Position                                                         End position

Hold bar, try and pull the bar apart with your hands, then rock your hips back on to your heels while trying to arch the mid back. You should only feel this in the mid to upper back.


Start position                               End Position

Knees and hips bent up. Hold arms out in front of you and then rotate mid back and shoulder blade towards the ground.

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