Last updated on February 14th, 2019

Signs Your Shoulder Problems are Related to Posture

Shoulder posture illustration

Modern day lifestyle has led us into an epidemic of poor posture. Shoulder posture abnormality contributes a spectrum of health conditions affecting appearance, movement and pain. The areas most affected are the head and neck, upper back and shoulders. This article explains the five most common signs that relate shoulders with poor posture.

Top 5 signs:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Head forward
  • Dowager’s Hump / Hyperkyphosis
  • Frozen Shoulder

Headaches and Neck Pain

Headaches and neck pain connected to posture are common. They are hard to get rid of because pain relieving interventions only mask the symptoms. The underlying issue is the muscle that connects to the shoulder pulls on the head and neck. The primary muscle involved is the medial division of the trapezius muscle. Read more about headaches related to posture.

Head Forward

A common pattern that is seen with shoulder problems is forward head posture. Due to the weight of the head and time there is a process of deformation. The muscles, tendon and ligaments shorten in the front and lengthen and weaken in the neck. The result is the head goes forward and the neck tracks along with it. The secondary consequence to forward head posture is the shortening of the muscles along the front of the neck and upper chest. The shortening in this area sets into motion the pulling of the shoulders forward. Over time the shoulder begins to roll forward producing the poor shoulder posture. Learn more about forward head posture.

Hyperkyphosis / Dowager’s Hump

Another breakdown pattern of shoulder posture is seen in the upper back. Hyperkyphosis is a term referring to an accentuation of the normal curve that is in the upper spine. A normal curve can be measured using x-ray, or at home you can do the wall angel test:

  • Stand against a flat wall with your heels touching the wall
  • To get an honest reading, stand in your normal posture
  • Take a deep breath, exhale and relax

If you feel the upper part of your shoulder blades are not touching the wall this is a sign that you have hyperkyphosis of the thoracic spine. Dowager’s hump is accentuation of the normal curve with a fatty pad gathering behind the neck.

Frozen Shoulder

Overuse injury such as sitting at a desk for a prolonged period of time or a single incident such as throwing a ball, swinging a racket, or over lifting with one arm could cause direct injury to the tissues that make up the shoulder girdle. The consequence of injury to the shoulder may develop into what is called frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis.

The common signs:

  • Pain and difficulty raising the arm.
  • Showering hair causes pain
  • Attempting to put a shirt over the head causes pain
  • Difficulty putting on a bra
  • Pain wth brushing hair

Frozen shoulder can also develop when you stop using the joint normally because of pain, injury, or a chronic health condition, such as diabetes or a stroke. In terms of shoulder posture, a frozen shoulder can develop from prolonged poor alignment of the shoulder. The tissue around the shoulder develops adhesions due to a lack of motion and often gets worse if left untreated. Due to the lack of use, the tissue in the front of the shoulder tightens and you develop the rolled shoulder appearance. Depending on the person and the injury, both shoulders may become involved. Left uncared for, the upper back and neck can become affected producing hunching.

Improve It Before It’s Too Late

If you notice any of the signs described above you may need to look into improving shoulder posture before it’s too late. In many cases poor shoulder posture is a result of lifestyle choice. Dealt with early, the condition can be reversed. If the type of breakdown pattern can be established and damage is not too severe, with the right help poor shoulder posture can be fixed! Learn to fix shoulder problems.

Dr. Paul Paez, DC, NRT, NET, CMT

National Board Certified Doctor of Chiropractic (DC), trained in clinical nutrition (NRT), neuro-emotional release (NET), and Massage Therapy (CMT). Dr. Paul holds the rare triple distinction of Certified Posture Expert, Certified Posture Neurologist and Certified Posture Ergonomist by the American Posture Institute. Posture Possible is the very best resource for posture information.