Pinch, tight, click, catch, only hurts when I move my arm, are all common things I have heard when people describe shoulder pain. These are usually followed with an impressive array of stretches, band work, and anything/everything except diagnosing the problem that caused the shoulder pain. Trying to fix shoulder pain without addressing the cause for pain is kind of like wiping your butt before you handle your business. What are some simple things you can do to assess yourself and be on the lookout for?

 Thoracic Spine Stuck in Flexion

 One common problem I often see is a rounded upper back or a flexed thoracic spine. This can be caused from poor posture when sitting or standing, looking down at a phone, too much bench press, and/or a lifetime of moving poorly and not recognizing poor posture. Having a functioning thoracic spine is essential to shoulder health. Performing thoracic spine mobility exercises can improve shoulder internal rotation, external rotation, flexion, and abduction. If you have shoulder pain start here, and study your own posture, if it is bad this may be the fix you need.

 Soft Tissue Work

Soft tissue work has made its way to the forefront of strength and conditioning within the last five years. Every gym, every weight room (at least any that matter) all have foam rollers, and other tools to help you address soft tissue issues. How does this effect the shoulder? If you are pulled forward do to dense “soft” tissue, then this could be a limiting variable in your shoulder range of motion.  Many people become “tight” just from living, meaning just because you don’t go to the gym seven days a week doesn’t mean you don’t need to do soft tissue work. Performing soft tissue work on the pec minor, posterior rotator cuff, lats, scalenes, and several other areas can reduce an individual’s symptoms and improve range-of-motion instantly. Attack these areas and re-test your shoulder range-of-motion.


Shoulder pain does not always equate to “bad” shoulders. Chances are you are having shoulder pain because there is something else on your body that is faulty and functioning poorly. Thoracic spine mobility and dense “soft” tissue are two common problems I run into when assessing clients.



Brett Cummins

Trainer at Forge- Rx

Image Source: Canadian Counseling Psychotherapy Association