I Came to Physiotherapy with Shoulder Pain… So Why am I Doing Posture Exercises?

When we reach overhead, there are small movements that happen at the shoulder ball-and-socket joint, the shoulder blade rotates upward and tips backwards, and spine extends and rotates… at least that’s what we hope to see! So, when someone comes in with a shoulder problem, contributing factors might be a shoulder blade not moving properly or a stiff spine, which often leads us to address postural changes with our shoulder patients.

A 2015 study even showed that postural abnormality could be used as an independent predictor of both symptomatic and asymptomatic rotator cuff tears. In the study, 525 participants were divided into 4 posture types, including 1) ideal alignment, 2) kyphotic-lordotic, 3) flat-back, and 4) sway-back postures. Of the participants, 24.5% showed rotator cuff tear in 1 shoulder and 11.9% showed tears in both shoulders. The prevalence of rotator cuff tears was 2.9% with ideal alignment, 65% with kyphotic-lordotic posture, 54.3% with flat-back posture, and 48.9% with swayback posture.

Goes to show you how much of an impact our posture has on our shoulder health!

Now it’s always important to remember that partial and complete rotator cuff tears are common and often respond to conservative treatments such as physiotherapy.

In fact, MRI studies of adults who have zero shoulder pain showed that 20% have partial thickness rotator cuff tears and 15% have full thickness tears. In those 60 and older, 50% who had no shoulder pain or injury had rotator cuff tears on their MRI that they did not even know about!

Has your shoulder been giving you grief? Spending too much time slouched at your desk? Give Peach Physiotherapy a call at 519-358-7342 to set up a 1-on-1 assessment to find out how we can help!

Sher JS, et al. Abnormal findings on magnetic resonance images of asymptomatic shoulders. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1995 Jan;77(1):10-5.

Yamamoto A, et al. The impact of faulty posture on rotator cuff tears with and without symptoms. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2015 Mar: 23(3):446-52.