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When Washing Our Hair is Uncomfortable…

neck problems

Shoulder discomfort such as, general tightness, achiness, sharp pain with specific movements, or inability to lift the weight of our arm comfortably or at all, are symptoms of shoulder discomfort. These things may limit our ability to do everyday things such as reach an overhead shelf, wash our hair, reach behind our back to tuck in our shirt, or even lift something simple like a grocery bag or throw a ball at practice. However, physical therapy could help to reduce that pain and discomfort you may be experiencing.

What exactly is the shoulder?

The shoulder consists of many joints, muscles, and bones that work together to allow your arm to lift and throw things. The head of the humerus (arm bone), rests in the shoulder blade, like a golf ball rests on a tee. If you imagine how unstable a golf ball is on a tee, you can appreciate how hard the supporting anatomical structures must work to keep the “ball from falling off the tee.” The rotator cuff, a series of four small muscles with ample blood supply, is another part of the shoulder. These muscles actively work to give stability to the “golf ball on a tee”. The most superficial layer of the shoulder consists of the big muscles that help us lift heavy objects, like deltoid, trapezius, long head of the biceps brachii tendon, and pectoral muscles.

How can everyday activities you do cause shoulder discomfort to start?

Well, pretend there is an injury or weakness in any of the joints, muscles, or bones listed in the above paragraph.  You can see that the very mobile joint of the shoulder requires many pieces of anatomy for stability. If one or more of your anatomical structures supporting the shoulder is compromised, it makes lifting your arm over head or carrying in a bag of groceries quite difficult, and often times painful.

Here is a brief list of ways your everyday activities can damage a joint structure:

  • Wear and tear from poor lifting mechanics and poor posture
  • Overuse without proper conditioning, like bench-pressing or golfing
  • Overhead activities, like throwing a ball, or painting walls
  • Tackling sports, such as football
  • Falling and breaking the fall with arms
  • Holding a dog that pulls on a leash

At Loudoun Sports Therapy Center our therapists often hear, “I thought my pain would just go away.” The reality is that most of the aforementioned structures have little blood supply or are too chronically inflamed to heal themselves properly. If you keep pushing through these symptoms you may make the injury worse or even larger, which can hinder your ability to perform everyday tasks, and participate in your favorite activities.

How can you solve shoulder discomfort?

Physical therapy treatment here at LSTC will show you steps to take, to maintain shoulder strength, relieve pain and discomfort, and help you return to the activities you love!

Our therapists are trained to help you:

  • Fix your muscle imbalance
  • Improve muscle endurance
  • Loosen the tight muscles and surrounding structures
  • Retrain the neuromuscular component of body control
  • Teach you how to perform repetitive movements correctly, like swinging a golf club or throwing a ball
  • Analyze and correct lifting and movement patterns
  • Use manual hands-on treatment to improve joint mobility and alignment, and decrease pain caused by damaged structures


Do not let your shoulder keep you from participating in life! Come see a physical therapist at Loudoun Sports Therapy Center and start your treatment today!  Call 703-450-4300 TODAY, to set up an evaluation and start your journey to a pain free life.

 CLICK HERE for more on how physical therapy can help you.

By C. Ashley Border, PT, DPT

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