Do You Get Shoulder Pain When You Reach Back?
In this video, you'll learn what causes shoulder pain when you reach back, and what you can do to be able to reach back comfortably without shoulder pain.
What Causes Shoulder Pain When I Reach Back?
Having shoulder pain when you reach back is a common complaint among people who suffer from shoulder problems. Shoulder pain when reaching back can affect can affect everyday activities such as:
- Pulling up your pants
- Fastening a bra
- Putting on a coat
- Reaching into the back seat of a car
- For some, even wiping after going #2
If you've found yourself wondering "Why do I get shoulder pain when I reach back?", then here's likely the reason why you get it:
Your shoulder is a ball and socket joint where the ball (humeral head) rotates in the socket (glenoid fossa) as you move your arm.
When you reach back, your arm moves backwards, but the ball of the shoulder actually glides forward in the socket.
This can cause you to pinch the rotator cuff tendons that attach to the front of the shoulder, especially if the muscles in the back of your shoulder are too stiff.
Your shoulder blade also moves when you reach back.
Depending on what type of reaching back you're talking about, your arm and shoulder blade will move differently. Here are two common types of reaching back movements that can cause shoulder pain if done improperly.
Keep reading to learn more about each of these types of problems, plus how to perform these movements better so that you don't get shoulder pain when you reach back.
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Shoulder Pain When Reaching Behind Your Back
Reaching behind your back should be a combined movement of both your shoulder blade moving backwards, along with your forearm rotating around the axis of your upper arm (internal rotation).
If the tissues in the back of the shoulder are too stiff, the ball of the shoulder can't rotate properly in the socket.
As a result people will often compensate by tipping their shoulder blade forward, and extending their elbow behind their body.
This in turn lower the arch of the shoulder down toward the ball, and causes the ball of the shoulder to glide forward. Both of these things can cause shoulder pain when you reach back behind your back.
To prevent shoulder pain when reaching behind your back, think about moving your shoulder blade and arm as one unit as shown in the video above.
Shoulder Pain When You Reach Back For An Object Behind You
When you reach back for an object behind you, such as getting something out of the back seat, the same principles apply as above.
If your elbow goes behind your body, the ball of the shoulder glides forward in the socket. This can cause shoulder pain when you reach back.
Tips to Avoid Shoulder Pain When You Reach Back
- Avoid it if possible. Try to turn your body instead. An extreme reaching back movement is not a normal movement that your body is supposed to make.
- If you have to reach back, think about pulling your shoulder blade back first. Then allow your arm to follow.
- Don't let your elbow go too far behind your body
Follow these tips regularly when reaching back and you should have less shoulder pain when doing so.
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What Exercises Can I Do To Stop Shoulder Pain When I Reaching Back?
As mentioned above, if you get shoulder pain when you reach back, often it's due to:
- the muscles in the back of the shoulder being too stiff causing the ball to glide forward in the socket, or
- the chest muscles being too stiff causing the shoulder blade to tip forward.
If the muscles in the back of the shoulder are too stiff, the "sleeper stretch" is a good exercise to stretch the muscles and joint capsule in the back of the shoulder.
However, if you do the sleeper stretch incorrectly, it can actually cause shoulder pain.
Like this post? See our other posts on Shoulder Pain