Shoulder pain seems so common in our society. Because: stress – right? One US PubMed article states that “shoulder pain affects 18-26% of adults at any point in time, making it one of the most common regional pain syndromes”.
But hidden in these stats is the fact that women ‘shoulder’ most of the burdens of the world. Women suffer most from poverty and war. Outside of war and poverty, in most families women carry the larger portion of family care, family scheduling and housework while also working outside the home – and often working harder/longer than their male colleagues for less pay (it blows my mind that this is still true).
Many women have consulted with me for shoulder pain over the years. There are LOTS of suggestions out there for addressing shoulder pain, but a lot of them involve hard work and some could be painful. If you know me, you know that’s not my favourite thing when it comes to recovering from pain!
You may also know that I’m a BIG fan of any opportunity to choose slow over fast and doing less instead of more.
My favourite way to release the shoulder is all of those things I like – slow, soft, doing less. If you work with your arms all day long – say you’re a violinist, a window-cleaner or work on your computer for hours – it’s pretty much a given that you’ll have a lot of tension – and maybe pain – in your shoulders at day’s end.
One way to reduce or prevent this is to check in regularly through the day with where you’re holding your shoulders – are they up towards your ears? Hunched forward in front of your chest?
If so, don’t pull them back to correct it (like a drill sargeant might demand) as this will only create more tension in your upper back. Instead, think of letting your shoulder blades ‘melt’ down your back, allowing the shoulder muscles to soften and your bones to settle back into their natural alignment on top of your ribcage.
The good news is you don’t have to do a whole lot of strenuous shoulder exercises to get them to release. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of strenuous exercise, it’s just more effective – and feels better – when your muscles aren’t hurting and your joints move freely).
The technique I’ll show you here is so easy it feels like you’re doing nothing. And really, you are ‘doing nothing’. But your body is doing something – it’s softening your muscles, increasing circulation in the shoulder and arm and re-aligning your shoulder joint.
Try it now:
- Lie on your back on your bed or couch, close enough to the edge to allow your whole arm to hang down freely off the side of the bed. Allow the arm, shoulder and hand to soften and relax. If it feels comfortable and relieving, rest here for 1-5 minutes (or more if you wish).
- If it’s not completely comfortable and feels too stretchy or pulling, try bending your elbow and tucking your hand under your hip on the bed, to allow just the upper arm to hang down.
This can be surprisingly effective despite being so simple, especially if you use it often. It’s remarkable how your body knows just what to do to take care of you, when you can get out of its way.
Whenever you use these positional rest techniques you create a feeling of safety in your body and rewire your brain to choose ease instead of pain.
I hope this helps you feel better, even for a few minutes. If you’d like to share with me what you noticed, email me or connect with me on Instagram.