The shoulder blade is a common area for pain and functional limitation in patients so we thought we’d take a closer look at the importance of this region and what can be done to address some of the most common problems we see here.
The scapulothoracic joint is where your scapula (shoulder blade) attaches to your rib cage or thorax. It is a complex joint because, unlike a standard ball and socket or ‘synovial’ type joint your shoulder blade makes no direct bony attachments to your ribs. Rather, it floats over the top of them, held in place by a multi-directional sling of muscles, including some you might have heard of before like your traps (trapezius), lats (latissimus dorsi) and pecs (pectoralis minor).
These muscles must work in unison to provide smooth and powerful movement at both the shoulder blade and the shoulder joint. It is also essential that the strength, tension and flexibility of these muscles is well balanced to allow for optimal shoulder positioning and efficiency during activity. When position and efficiency are compromised, risk of injury increases. Your shoulder blades also act the obase for your rotator cuff muscles to attach so mobility of the scapula is critical in allowing your rotator cuff to work efficiently.
The other main role of your scapula is to provide a dynamically stable base for the humerus to articulate with at the glenohumeral or shoulder joint. If movement at your scapulothoracic joint is restricted it may contribute to soft tissue and joint pain in the upper back or arm, and you may be at a higher risk of rotator cuff tears or tendinopathy.
When you come to Melbourne Osteohealth for a myotherapy treatment we will assess your shoulder position and movement to establish if any imbalances in mobility, muscle tension and strength exist. Once we have established which soft-tissue structures might be contributing to your pain or lack of movement we can treat those specific structures, like I am in the video below.