Self Care – Pain in the Front of Shoulder When Lifting Arm

Changing your activities:

For the short rounded shoulders, avoid the backpacks or a shoulder back on that hooked. Many people note that the problematic shoulder is just shaped right for holding a bag. working on a low desk with a laptop can lead to the hooked shoulders and short, tight pectoralis minor as well.

Most people see themselves with slumped shoulders and don’t really recognize when the shoulders are high, tight and need to be brought down. In those cases, the person usually leans on their elbows while working. This overstretches the pec minor and shortens the middle section of the serratus anterior to support the posture. you can read about that in this post.

This typically comes in one of two postures: rounded shoulders with short tight pecs and shoulder blades that lay close to the back or high and tight shoulder with overstretched pecs and shoulder blades that wing out.

If you have rounded shoulders with short, tight pecs, and shoulder blades that lay close to your back, do more of these stretching exercises:

Doorway stretches need to be done gently at first with the elbows at chest level on the door frame. As the pecs release and lengthen over several sessions, raise the elbows on the door frame. Finish with the elbows to stretch clavicular pec over the pec minor. They often work together and have very similar pain patterns.

Two things will speed this process; using the ice and stretch method or making this a regular habit by doing it several times a day for just a few seconds each time. I had notable changes over several weeks just from demoing this for a few clients a day.

If you have high and tight shoulders with overstretched pecs and shoulder blades that wing out, do more of these strengthening exercises:

This is one of the most useful and relaxing exercises that you’ll ever do.

It does so much more than get your pec minor working. It relaxes your neck, opens your breathing and, well, just try it.

If you’re less athletic, start with wall push-ups. push your elbows into the wall so that your shoulder blade moves forward and down, strengthening the extrinsic chest muscles that depress the scapula.

Upward facing dog from

If you’re a yoga practitioner work on getting your shoulders lowered on poses like upward facing dog. This practitioner has done a great job of contracting her scapular depressors.

If you’re athletic, dips are probably the right thing for you. Bench dips like this are good. Chair dips with your arms beside you are even better. If you’re doing those dips on parallel bars with the weight hanging between your legs, you probably aren’t reading this post…

Does another Self-Care post
better match your pain?

Here is the post about the trigger point pattern associated with these Self-Care activities.

Check out these posts for shoulder, chest, and forearm.

If you’re not succeeding with these strategies, get in touch with your trigger point specialist. They will know how to make lasting changes.

This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.

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Customize Your Desk Area
To Avoid Pain
While Working and Afterward

We spend a lot of time reading and working on our computers. Here is a simple guide for the more active, athletic body and one that needs more support. There are also suggestions for accessories that make your days at work (and afterward) more comfortable.

Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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