Poor posture combined with heavy lifting and poor exercise programming (or lack of any programming) can wreak havoc on the shoulders.  If you find yourself with achy shoulders or care enough to keep them healthy, then keep reading.  Here are three tips that you can do to help reduce and prevent shoulder pain from occurring.

It’s advisable to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program and even more important if you currently suffer from shoulder pain.

  1. Improve Your Posture– Most of us sit for hours each day with hunched shoulders and rounded backs. This not only has a negative long term impact on the spine, but it also affects the shoulders and surrounding muscles. Continuously putting your body in a poor position, such as hunched over a computer screen for hours on end can lead to tightness and shortening of the pectoral muscles. This can lead to muscular imbalances and increase the risk of injury.

Do this: Make a conscious effort to improve your posture throughout the day. Sit up tall, pull your shoulders back, and sit in the back of your chair. To develop this habit, set a simple calendar reminder for every two hours during your work day.

  1. Improve Thoracic Mobility– The thoracic spine is the middle section of the spine that is attached to the ribs. Having poor movement in this area will often affect the available range of motion for the shoulder. Try this: slump your shoulders forward like you just heard some very depressing news and then try to lift your arms overhead. Didn’t work too well? Now try standing up tall with a proud chest and lift your arms overhead. See the difference?

Do this: Improve muscle tissue quality through foam rolling and soft tissue work (maybe even a massage).  Focus these efforts on the mid-back. Be sure to also target the chest and lat muscles of the back. Then work on improving the range of motion in the thoracic spine through stretching and mobility drills. These can serve as part of warm-up before a workout or can be done by themselves throughout the day.

  1. Strengthen Shoulder Muscles– In order to counteract poor posture habits and tightness in the front of the shoulder, most people can benefit from strengthening the muscles on the posterior, or backside, of the body rather than the anterior, or front, of the body.

Do this: Organize your workouts so that for every anterior-focused exercise you perform (e.g. any type of press), you also perform two posterior-focused exercises (e.g. any pulling or rowing motion). Also, spend time developing the smaller, deep muscles of the rotator cuff. Simple exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff require only a band or light weight.

See a knowledgeable fitness professional to learn more and design a workout program to fit your needs. If you experience chronic shoulder pain or have an injury, visit a physical therapist for a thorough evaluation.