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  • Nicki Ferramosca

Overhead Shoulder Pain: Proper Movement & Building Strength

Updated: Jun 1

Shoulder movement in all directions should not be painful. Crazy thought, right? If you have pain when using your arm overhead, we need to figure that out!


There are a lot of different causes of shoulder pain. When you experience pain in the shoulder when your arm is overhead it is often from an impingement that happens near the outside area of the shoulder. When looking at the shoulder, it is important to look at how the shoulder, arm and shoulder blade are moving and what your range of motion is. We have several videos on how to test your shoulder range of motion that you can refer to but start by just looking at how the right shoulder moves compared to the left. Can you reach behind your head equally? Can you reach behind your low back equally? When looking in a mirror or reaching into a high shelf – can you do so equally with your right and left arm? If not, there may be an issue with joint mobility, muscle length or motor control.

When reaching overhead or using your arm for things like a tennis serve, volleyball serve, weightlifting, and even daily activities like reaching into your cabinets, your shoulder is using several muscles to control the arm and maintain the shoulder mechanics. Proper motion of the upper extremity maintains the space under the acromion (the bony prominence at the outside of the shoulder) which allows better movement for the shoulder complex and less pressure on the rotator cuff tendons therefore avoiding the dreaded impingement that happens!

Correcting shoulder mechanics involves strengthening and balancing the muscles that help support and move the shoulder while also focusing on stabilization. Stabilization is especially important throughout the thoracic spine, shoulder blade region and neck. Once there is balance of the muscles that maintain the movement of the shoulder, progression of functional activities and exercise can be progressed. Proper movement of the shoulder means less pain! Proper strength of the shoulder means less pain too!

Let us help keep you moving and progressing! Contact us today for a free phone consultation!

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