5 Things You Need to Know About Your Shoulders 12

5 Things You Need to Know About Your Shoulders

The shoulders are very complex joints that normally work efficiently to support your neck and head and a full range of arm movement. Beyond the usual focus on muscles and bone, there is much to consider when you have a shoulder problem that needs to get better. During 25 years of practice, I have successfully treated all manner of shoulder symptoms. When traditional muscle and joint therapy fails, you might want to consider the following facts.

It takes four joints to move your arm

The bones of your shoulder include the humerus, clavicle, scapula and sternum. These four structures form four joints that allow rotation and lift of the arm and serve as attachments for your muscles. Each joint contributes individual movement as all four joints combine to achieve full range of motion.  The shoulder girdle is an example of tensional integrity. The strength and flexibility of the arm and shoulder depend on balance and cooperation among the four joints. Each single joint depends on the integrity and support of the others. All four joints serve as your foundation for muscular movement and must be in balance for you to move efficiently.

The special nature of the clavicles

Your clavicles (collarbones) are the first bones to start forming in the embryo. They begin to grow in front of your heart. Clavicles are made of a spongy type of bone, designed to absorb force like a sponge. When force enters your shoulder, the clavicle compresses. If the force is too great, your clavicle will break in two to dissipate the injurious force before it can go deeper. In this way your clavicle is said to “guard” your heart.

Structurally, your clavicle struts the scapula (shoulder blade) away from your rib cage. This allows your scapula to glide freely over your ribs. When absorbed force compresses your clavicle it cannot “hold” the scapula in its proper position. All other shoulder joints and muscles will have to compensate creating difficulty in movement.

Your shoulders are connected to your organs

Connective tissue fascia wraps around organs forming pockets. This connective tissue moves from your abdomen, up through your chest, under your clavicles and into the head and neck. Through this fascial connection, stress in the shoulders can influence the organs and stress in organs can contribute stress to your shoulders. Dr. Barral, DO found common fascial strain patterns running under the right clavicle to the liver and left clavicle to left kidney.

You are a cross crawler

You are designed as a contralateral being. As an infant you learned to crawl in a specific way that trained your nervous system and established coordination. When your right arm goes forward, your left leg does also. When your left arm goes forward, your right leg will do the same. This complex pattern is stored in your nervous system and manages posture, coordination, movements, like walking, and balance. This strength pattern provides stability from shoulders to opposite hips. Because of this pattern, we often need to evaluate overstress in a hip as having a negative influence on your opposite shoulder.

 Protect and be safe and any cost

Arguably, the safest you have ever been is in a fully protected embryonic state. Your normal position for that safe development is the “fetal” position or flexion. During times of extreme stress or vulnerability, due to injury, surgery or other trauma, your body may automatically revert back to that safe fetal position called flexion. In a flexion posture, your shoulders roll forward, the chest collapses inward to protect heart and lungs, the shoulders may rise up to protect the neck and head as you compress inward toward your center. Over time flexion posture may cause pain, distort posture and decrease range of motion in the shoulders.

Let’s look at the whole picture

I often see people with muscle pain and limited movement in their shoulders. It helps to work with muscles but muscles alone are not often the entire issue. We need to understand and consider original patterns for health, relationships of the shoulders to other structures such as organs, cross crawling patterns for proper nervous system function and embryological patterns for safety.

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12 thoughts on “5 Things You Need to Know About Your Shoulders

  • Lynn Dubois

    Thank you, I’ve been experiencing limited range of motion and pain with my dominant arm. Looking for any and all options to correct it.
    Plus, this is useful as I see my own clients with shoulder injuries. Lynn

  • rose sabine

    Thanks so much Ken. I took your level 1 in Knoxville ,TN this year. I bought the study guide and level 1 course. The lesson material has been parked on the shelf since. I recently had a client with multiple symptoms that would appear to be heart related. Shortness of breath , heavy chest etc.. After visits to three Doctors no cause could be determined.
    I pulled out your material and gave my first treatment releasing the thoracic inlet area. My client had a profound positive response to the treatment. In fact the session felt good to me as well. While I know this is old news to you but it was a huge wake up call to me. I will be studying with you again Sir. Thank you so much!
    Rose Sabine LMTCR

  • Peggi Vivian

    Thank you Ken for this useful information! I have a handful of clients that have chronic shoulder/neck tension and feel that regular massages give pain relief. My senses tell me there is more going on physically as they present with other chronic symptoms such as gastro issues, inflammation in the joints and the like. I appreciate your article as it puts a new light on how I treat these clients!

  • Phyllis G. Thomas-Nicholas

    Ken, it’s great that you are bringing attention to other aspects that may cause chronic pain/tension of the neck and shoulders. Also, I have found that chronic illnesses such as Sjogrens takes a toll of connective tissue through out the body.

  • Judy Vass

    Dear Ken,

    I live in a suburb of Chicago and took your class this year. It was awesome.
    However, I really need more hands on help to really get this down. I am a visual and kinesthetic learner. You had mentioned a women who lives nearby who practices this technique and tutors. Unfortunately, I don’t have her phone no. or email address. Would you please be able to provide that for me. Also, when are you planning on coming back to Chi town?


  • Bill Freier

    Ken, Thanks for all your information. This one brought an “AHA”. I have a client that has been having right shoulder issues and the last appointment her left hip has been giving her trouble, she has been removing carpeting and scraping the floor to lay down new laminate. I used the Shoulder Girdle Muscles FasciaI and will work with the left pelvic and shoulder next time.
    Have a Happy New Year.
    Still working towards the level 4 class.