...is easily the complaint of "tight shoulders". The vast majority fall under a catagory known to body workers as "upper cross syndrome" or "rounded shoulders/head forward", caused by postural strains usually induced by habitual behavior - office or factory work, child care, texting, time at the TV or computer, any activity involving sustained, static positioning of the upper back, neck and shoulder girdle. Postural habit can also start "at the dinner table" as the young observe the old. What with this, early texting, computer use and book bags many adolescents develop this condition long before previous generations did.
The symptoms, if the client has come to us early in its development, are moderate pain, tension and lack of mobility across the upper back out into the arms and up into the neck. If the discomfort is tolerated, elements of the central nervous system lessen the stridency of pain's warning until a new plateau is reached and the client may be surprised by debilitating spikes of suffering. Noxious stimuli from the tissues results in painful trigger points in the muscles (especially along the top and medial side of the shoulder blade) and distorted fascial planes, which make movement awkward and painful. By this stage the dysfunction is contributing to many problems- headaches, tingling or numbness running down the arms and hands, lockup of the jaw, breathing and diaphragm issues, constrictions in the mid back and sides, sacroiliac problems and others.There are emotional considerations also. The closed, rounded shoulders with the head tending to look down may not be as liberating as a more open,vital stance.
Initial treatment stabilizes the client by addressing the pain. Most of the discomfort is often a pain/spasm/pain cycle. Follow-up treatment addresses breaking the muscular/emotional blockages that hold this pattern in place. Continued massage therapy will provide postural adjustments to the area allowing for a new pattern to develop with increased awareness aimed at preventing the recurrence of the shoulder dysfunction. The work to alter posture and to establish a firm foundation can be a lengthy, involved procedure depending upon the individual.