It seems everywhere I go I hear people complaining about their shoulders.  Perhaps its because my ears are used to hearing my patients talk about their concerns, but it seems it doesn’t matter if I’m at the grocery store, the gym, a yoga studio, or out for the evening–everybody complains about their shoulders.  “I’ve got this spot at the top of my shoulders that really gets bad by the end of the day. Its an ache, and then it burns, and then it travels down my back.  My shoulder kills me!”  Guess what? That pain you’re experiencing near your shoulder is NOT because of your shoulder.  Its because of your posture!

Lets tell a story of a tree planting.  One day, I plant a baby tree.  Its small and young, so I use stakes and bungee cords to ensure that it grows up straight and strong.

Good message, poor drawing skills.

After some rough weather, I go back to my tree and I see that it is tilting to a side. One bungee cord is doing basically nothing now, while the other is very tight and seemingly doing a LOT more work than it was intended to.

Baby tree problems.

This little story is the perfect analogy for a neck suffering from overuse.  The muscles on the back of your neck are like the bungee cords.  They are there to stabilize your neck, but if you end up with your neck in a forward position while you’re at your desk, looking at your phone, driving, or just about anything for long enough, those muscles will get way more load than they are meant to!

The reality of poor posture.

When a load exceeds a muscle’s capacity, adhesion develops in an effort to support these muscles to they don’t tear.  When this happens, it restricts the amount they can stretch or fire, so they lose range of motion and become weaker. If you continue to do the same activities that slowly cause this to build up, adhesions will build up and cause some serious pain. For the neck, that means the muscles that support it will become tight, tender and painful.  This group of muscles starts at the base of your skull, goes out to the top of your shoulders and down as far as the bottom of your shoulder blades.

If this sounds like you, contact a professional who is aware of these facts. Once adhesion is present, there is no amount of foam rolling, mobilizing, diet, or exercise that will get rid of it. If this sounds like you, contact a professional who is aware of these facts.If this sounds like you, contact a professional who is aware of these facts. If “adhesion” isn’t the first word out of their mouth as to what is causing your overuse injury, you need a new expert!