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Shoulder Pain While Steering


How People Describe This Pain Pattern

People hold their arm up like they have it on top of the steering wheel. They trace along the outside of their shoulder and say, “It hurts right here, and sometimes in my forearm.

When I ask them if there is a motion that they can use to reproduce it, they crook the elbow slightly, hold their arm up at shoulder level and turn it like they are steering a car. They often remark that it bothers them when they hold their arm on the steering wheel for a long period or cross mid-line.

This is an interesting pattern as I usually only see a few cases a year but have seen a lot of it this year (2016). Research also speaks of it as a less frequent pattern, so why are there so many more cases in my practice now?

How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

This pattern bothers people more when they pull across mid-line. Steering a car with a stiff steering wheel requires constant fine-tuning for turns and curves.

This is irritated by several sports activities. The cross-motion of the overhand serve in tennis bothers them, especially if they extend the shoulder completely. As well, some weightlifters also complain of this when doing lat pull-downs or shoulder presses. Pull-overs can aggravate this if they are jerky or the shoulder is not warmed-up. (They can really help as well – see the self-care section)

Also, people complain of this when they sleep on that shoulder with the arm extended so that the elbow is above their head.


The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain

Start by Understanding the Anatomy.
About the coloring of the illustrations…

Teres major is a simple muscle in a complex structure with the latissimus dorsi and posterior shoulder muscles. Read more in this post about the anatomy of teres major.

Getting Relief on Your Own

Clinically Proven
Self-Care Recommendations.

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

Therapy Notes for Massage and Bodywork

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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Featured Post

Shoulder hurt From Covid-19 Vaccine?

This post offers quick, lasting relief from pain in your shoulder that came from the vaccine. You need an ice cube and about 2 minutes.

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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*This site is undergoing major changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and will include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there may be inconsistency in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.