Shoulder Instability – A Chiropractic Approach

Shoulder instability is a very common problem, especially amongst people who work at a desk, train at a gym or have decided to do some push-ups when they return to training after some time off. The reason for this? Your shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in your body. It’s a simple ball and socket joint, that allows us to swing through trees (not much anymore), climb, push, pull, press, throw, hit, well you get the idea.

But with this great versatility and flexibility comes the potential for shoulder instability. Anything that can move more, inherently is more vulnerable to injury. Often, injury comes through mis-use of the shoulder, or through certain muscles becoming over and under developed. This imbalance means the ball of the joint, does not sit correctly in the socket. And when we then challenge the shoulder with a movement or an exercise, we can create dysfunction and pain.

Firstly, stand in a comfortable position with your arms by your side and look straight ahead. Which way are your hands facing? Are the palms pointing backwards? Most of the patients I see have internally rotated shoulders as their standard shoulder position. This indicates poor positioning of the ball in the socket. Shoulders hunched and rounded forward, and raised scapulae (shoulder blades) are also tell tale signs. If this is the case, we have dominant muscles pulling your shoulders into these positions. We want to release these dominant muscles, and then eventually work to strengthen under-performing muscle groups.

As a Chiropractor, we also want to assess your spine, specifically your Thoracic mobility. This is the part of the spine that runs between your scapulae (shoulder blades), and is where your ribs attach. If your Thoracic spine is not functioning well, this can impact on your shoulder stability, as well as your breathing.