How Do You Fix A Catch In Your Shoulder?
Watch the video to learn what causes a catch in your shoulder, plus 2 easy tips to fix a catch in shoulder.
What Causes A Catch In Your Shoudler?
A catch in your shoudler is caused when you pinch the rotator cuff tendons in your shoulde while reaching upwards.
Your shoulder is a ball and socket joint, but it's not a perfectly round ball. There are bumps on the ball of the shoulder called the greater and lesser tuberosity, as noted in the image below.
As you raise your arm, the ball of your shoulder rolls upward in the socket. Normally it should glide downward at the same time so that the ball of your shoulder doesn't ride up against the top of the socket.
However, sometimes that happen and you get a catch in your shoulder as you're raising your arm.
That typically happens in the 90-120 degree range of motion.
(For reference, 90 degrees would be with your elbow raised to shoulder level, and 120 degrees would be 30 degrees above that.)
A catch in that 90 to 120 degree range is some times referred to as a "painful arc".
How Do You Fix A Catch In Your Shoulder?
There are a couple of tips that can help if you get a catch in your shoulder in that 90-120 degree painful arc.
Tip #1 To Fix A Catch In The Shoulder
The easiest and the most helpful tip that I've found for most people who have this type of problem is just paying attention to your hand position.
When you reach with your thumb down, it rotates your shoulder in a position of internal rotation.
That position rotates the greater tuberosity under the arch of the shoulder and makes you more likely to get a catch in your shoulder when raising your arm.
Conversely if you reach with your thumb up, that clears the greater tuberosity out from under the arch of the shoulder so you're less likely to pinch the rotator cuff tendons.
Think of the phrase "thumbs up for success".
In reality though, there are times when you'll have to pick something up off of a high shelf, for example, that may require you to turn your palm down.
You still want to reach with your thumb up, but at the end of reaching, you turn your palm down without letting your elbow and upper arm move.
This way you keep your upper arm in external rotation even though you're rotating your forearm in the opposite direction.
The net effect of this: less shoulder pain and catching when reaching for things over your head.
Tip #2 To Fix A Catch In The Shoulder
The second tip has to do with the movement of the actual arch of the shoulder itself.
The arch over top of your shoulder is part of your shoulder blade, and as you raise your arm up normally, that shoulder blade should rotate so that the socket moves upward.
If the arm is moving upward and the shoulder socket isn't, then you're more likely to get a catch in your shoulder.
So how do your get your shoulder blade to move properly when raising your arms?
Well, think about moving your shoulder and your shoulder blade as one movement.
For example when reaching upward, your shoulder blade should move forward and around your ribcage.
The movement should be roughly 2 parts arm movement to 1 part shoulder blade movement.
So if you think about making your shoulder blade and arm move together when you're reaching, you're less likely to get a catch in your shoulder.
What Else Can Cause A Catch In Your Shoulder?
Your rotator cuff muscles normally function to hold the ball of your shoulder centered in the socket.
Therefore, if your rotator cuff muscles have gotten too weak from a rotator cuff tear, disuse, or a pinched nerve in your neck, all of those things can cause your rotator cuff not to function properly.
Doing rotator cuff strengthening exercises helps to keep the ball of your shoulder centered in the socket. When moving your arm
However, if the weakness in your shoulder muscles is coming from a pinched nerve in your neck, you can do rotator cuff exercises all day long and not get any better. In that case, you'd need to do exercises for a pinched nerve in your neck.
Finally, if you have knots in your shoulder or shoulder blade, they can prevent your shoulder blade and/or arm from moving properly as you're reaching upward.
Treatments like trigger point therapy or dry needling can help in that circumstance.
As you can see, there are many different things that can cause a catch in your shoulder.
Most of the time, a catch in the shoulder can be fixed without surgery, it's just a matter of getting the right treatment for the right problem.
Need Help For A Catch In Your Shoulder?
If you'd like to find out what's causing your shoulder pain and what you can do to use your arm more comfortably without getting a catch in your shoulder, tap the button below to request an appointment with one of our specialists.
Like this post? Read some of our other posts about shoulder pain:
Can I Exercise With A Rotator Cuff Injury?
8 Rotator Cuff Strengthening Exercises