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Is Your Bad Posture Causing You Shoulder Pain?

Dr. Arnan Sisson, PT / January 30, 2022

There are a few different ways that bad posture can cause shoulder pain.

When healthcare professionals talk about posture and shoulder pain, it's common to hear the phrase, "forward head, rounded shoulders".

However that's an oversimplification.

That's the reason why physical therapy works for some people with shoulder pain but not others....

Because if you use a one-size-fits all approach to treat "forward head, rounded shoulders", then when some other postural problem is causing your shoulder pain, the treatment doesn't work.

So I'm going to take a deep dive into a few different posture problems that might cause shoulder pain.

  1.  Shoulder blades tilted forward
  2. Shoulder blade is too high
  3. Shoulder blade is too low
  4. Shoulder blade downwardly rotated
  5. Ball of the shoulder is too far forward in the socket
  6. Shoulders twisted inward
  7. Your shoulder pain is coming from your neck

How Do You Correct Shoulder Pain From Bad Posture?

That's the easy part (in theory). It's also the hard part in practice.

There are 2 simple solutions to stop shoulder pain attributable to ANY posture:

  1. Spend LESS time in the posture that's causing your problem.
  2. Spend more time changing between different postures.

There's no one "ideal" posture for every single person.  People come in all different shapes and sizes.  Additionally, we were made to be in one static posture all day long (a.k.a. "chest up, shoulders back, chin down").  Moving around frequently and changing between postures will help you prevent muscle imbalances that develop from any one sustained posture - good or bad.

If you do happen to notice a specific posture that causes your shoulder pain though, take steps to correct that particular postural component, rather than just using stereotypical "good posture".

  1. Shoulder blades tilted forward - lift your chest up and tilt your shoulder blades backwards.  This is NOT the same as squeezing your shoulders together
  2. Shoulder blade is too high - conscientiously relax the muscles on top of your shoulder such that you allow your shoulder blade to fall  This is a skill, but you can learn to do it with mind-body techniques.  Additionally, getting trigger point therapy or dry needling can help speed up the process.
  3. Shoulder blade is too low - support your elbow on armrests, pillows, or desks when sitting.  When standing put your hand in your pocket. Stretch your lats on that side.
  4. Shoulder blade rotated downward - wear bra straps closer to the neck rather than out by the tip of the shoulder.  Avoid carrying heavy purses, bags, or briefcases on that side.
  5. Ball of the shoulder is too far forward in the socket - avoid reaching far behind your.  When laying on your back, put a pillow under your elbow.  Stretch the muscles in the back of the shoulder and strengthen your rotator cuff.
  6. Shoulders internally rotated - think about keeping your elbows in or thumb up when reaching overhead.
  7. Your shoulder pain is coming from your neck - Sit and stand with your head above your shoulders, your chin slightly tucked, and your head neutral (not tipped to one side or the other).  Learn posture to prevent neck and shoulder pain when working at a desk.

Other Free Resources For Shoulder Pain

Click Here To Read – How To Cure Neck Pain Fast

Click Here To Read –  Headaches: More Than Just Pain In The Head!

Click Here To Read –  I Have a Crick in My Neck … Can you Help with that?

We also have free, downloadable reports for people with  Neck And Shoulder Pain.