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Tired of Shouldering the Load? by Randy Thomas T

he shoulder is one of the most amazing structures of the body. Attached to the skeleton only

where the collarbone (clavicle) at- taches to the breast bone (sternum), it has more movement potential than any other joint.

Human skeletons are designed to bear weight and pass the compressive forces of gravity through the body. The shoulder blades should sit down and back on the rib cage instead of being rounded forward. When the shoulders round forward, the muscles bear the load, instead of the skeleton, leading to aches and pains. Without realizing it, we often utilize our bodies in ways that contrib- ute directly to symptoms of pain and restriction. Using the body in ways that support and strengthen it can help eliminate the source of such pain. For example, many people hold tension in their shoulders and con- stantly overwork these muscles. When the arms are held straight out from the body for a minute or two, the shoulders start to burn and ache. When muscles

Shoulder Pain Test Here is a simple test to find out if you are inadvertently causing knots and pain in your shoulders. As you read this line, freeze. Do not alter your body position. Now notice where your shoulders are in space. Are they creeping up toward your ears a little? Can you take a deep breath and let them settle down a little lower in the back? If so, you are using energy that has absolutely no functional relevance and you are contributing significantly to pain you feel in this area.

parts are stacked in an unbalanced manner, the soft tissues may be com- pressed, depriving them of blood flow, which causes cell death and pain. A forward head posture position can also decrease the size of the spaces through which the nerves pass, caus- ing pressure on them and decreasing the nerves’ transmission to the muscles. When muscles receive poor instruc- tions, they produce poor quality con- tractions resulting in faulty mechanics of the joints and excessive pressure on the soft tissues. This may lead to over- use injuries such as tendonitis, bursitis or impingement syndromes. Muscles and soft tissues can also develop adhe- sions or movement restrictions from poor posture and faulty mechanics. In spite of the complexity of the

contract and burn energy, they also give off waste products. Normally, the action of the muscles contracting and relaxing forces waste products out of the area and no discomfort occurs. However, when the muscles stay tense and con- tracted, they cannot eliminate the waste products, resulting in pain. If this kind of pain occurs after just two minutes of contracting the muscles in the shoul- ders, is it any surprise that the shoulders ache at the end of a long day of work- ing at a desk? The real wonder is that the body endures a tremendous amount of abuse before it starts to complain. Standing and sitting with your

head in a forward position is another unconscious behavior that often results in pain and degeneration in your neck and shoulders. It is helpful to think of the different parts of the body (pelvis, rib cage and head) as a set of chil- dren’s building blocks. If the blocks are stacked directly atop one another, ef- ficient function occurs. When the body

shoulder, it is actually quite simple to restore and maintain its health. With guidance from a physical therapist, we can learn how to balance our posture, strengthen the appropriate muscles and use our bodies efficiently. Physi- cal therapists are experts in analysis of posture, body mechanics and move- ment dysfunction. They evaluate the way you sit, stand and move; examine the movement of your joints; and test the strength of your muscles. They can also determine which tissues have adhesions that need treatment to restore efficient function. Physical therapists enjoy the opportunity to teach patients how to exercise and move in a way that makes them healthier and reverses and/ or prevents further deterioration.

Physical therapist Randy Thomas and his wife Sarah have been in practice for more than 25 years. Thomas Orthope- dic & Sports Physical Therapy is located at 100 Professional Blvd., in Daytona Beach. Randy will present a Shoulder Pain Workshop on November 15. To reserve a spot or for more details, call 386-257-2672.

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