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Pain in front of shoulder when reaching out to the side

Client’s Description

People complain of pain in the front of the shoulder when reaching to the side while their arm is at shoulder level. It is easy to adapt movement to avoid this unless there is a specific activity like holding the passenger seat while driving.

This problem can be aggravated by carrying a backpack. The straps create pressure on the trigger point eliciting the pain pattern while carrying the pack. This also aggravates the muscle so that it may become chronic. The shoulder may also ache from the pressure of a seat belt.

This muscle can become chronically short when the middle trapezius creates high and tight shoulders and the humerus hangs closer to the collar bone.

This produces “that good stretch feeling” in the front of the shoulder during the Warrior-2 pose. If it is chronic, it will restrict the arm from lifting to shoulder height, when unwatched. If it is happening regularly, the stretch lengthens the clavicular pec but the muscle will still have weakness during contraction. In this case, the shoulder joints need work.

The trigger point is activated by strenuously reaching forward as when putting things on a shelf, reaching over something to paint or reaching out to grab a falling object. One client complained of this after spending some time trying to reach over a deep dresser to hang pictures.

Get relief
with Self Care.

This post has strategies for getting relief on your own. Explore how to change your activities, stretch and other strategies that relieve the pain associated with this trigger point.

Better Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise.

This post has techniques, tips, treatment routines, and anatomy illustrations to improve the bodyworker’s approach.

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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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