Proper positioning and stabilization of your shoulder complex is required during all arm movements. A stable shoulder complex allows maximum efficiency and function of your arms and hands. Also, with proper stability of the shoulder complex, there is less use of your neck muscles, reducing stresses on your neck.

Rolled Shoulders Can Be A Sign Of Shoulder Instability

Muscles properly stabilize your shoulder complex by pulling your shoulder blade (scapula) back and down and by holding it snug against your rib cage. When your shoulder complex does not stabilize properly your shoulder will raise up or your shoulder blade wings (sticks out from the back). People who present with this kind of instability often have rolled shoulders and a forward leaning neck.

Shoulder Instability Can Overload The Muscles Of The Neck And The Entire Arm

Weakness of the shoulder depressors (mid and low traps) allows the shoulder to raise and come forward which compromises the leverage of the muscles and joints. To make problems even worse, the muscles that elevate and draw the shoulder forward and up inhibit the muscles that properly stabilize the shoulder complex. With this situation other muscles have to perform the task of stability that do not have the proper leverage. These muscles become overloaded and can eventually fail.

Shoulder Symptoms Include Rotator Cuff Injuries, Neck Pain, Headaches, Elbow And Wrist Problems

The muscles that compensate for a dysfunctional shoulder complex include the neck muscles, the muscles of the rotator cuff, and muscles of the arm. The initial signs of shoulder instability can be felt in any of these areas: the neck, the shoulder, the elbow, or even the wrist. Some common problems include neck pain, rotator cuff injuries, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, or headaches.

The Neck And Upper Back Can Influence Shoulder Stability And Mobility

Proper mobility of your upper back allows your shoulders and neck to maintain their proper posture. Furthermore, dysfunctions in your neck can affect control of the shoulder complex because the nerves that control the muscles of your shoulder and arm originate from the neck. Neck dysfunction affects the nervous system and can produce irritation to the nerves that control the shoulder by slowing muscle activation, reducing your ability to stabilize properly.

Chiropractic improves spinal and nervous function; which is necessary to maintain back mobility and to establish good activation of the muscles of the shoulder complex. Proper exercises should be functional in nature, replicating movements commonly used in daily activities. They should properly activate the shoulder stabilizers and position the shoulders and neck appropriately for optimum stability.

An appropriate exercise program should be paced and progressive, train correct movement patterns, adhere to good posture, and improve coordination of the shoulder complex.

Extended Reading

Explore these links for extended reading on kinesiology and assessment of the shoulder and exercises for the shoulder complex.