How can I help prevent the pinching of my supraspinatus muscle?

Rick Olderman
Physical Therapy
When your arms are down at your sides, your shoulder blade's (scapula's) resting position naturally maintains the subacromial space. Ideally, when your arms raise overhead, your shoulder blade should tilt backward (posterior tilt) in addition to sliding movements. When the shoulder blade has sufficient posterior tilt and correctly performs its sliding movements, the subacromial space opens up and gives the supraspinatus plenty of head room to do its thing.

Your shoulder blade tilts more effectively when you have good posture. When you have poor or slouching posture, the scapula can't get out of the way, which causes the supraspinatus to become pinched against the acromion. Often, the shoulder blade doesn't tilt backward enough because it is excessively tilted forward (anterior tilt). Poor posture contributes to this.

So how do we fix this? First of all, sit up straight and correct your posture! An erect posture allows your shoulder blades to tilt backward, which in turn allows your arm bones to rise higher without pinching that rotator cuff muscle. Test this yourself. Slouch in your chair and raise your arms while maintaining the slouched posture. Note how high your arms raise and if you feel any discomfort. Now sit up tall, lift your ribcage, and shrug your shoulders up while you raise your arms again. Notice that your arms can raise higher or are less restricted. Most people will find it much easier to raise their arms while maintaining the taller posture and will also find they have greater range of motion or less discomfort. When poor posture causes the humerus to prematurely bump into the acromion of the scapula, it keeps your arm from reaching its full range. Sitting up tall helps your shoulder blade tilt back and rotate out of the way. Working, resting, or playing with better posture prepares the shoulder for overhead activities and lessens microtrauma to the supraspinatus. This has enormous implications for people whose work or athletics involves reaching overhead.
Fixing You: Shoulder & Elbow Pain: Self-treatment for rotator cuff strain, shoulder impingement, tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, and other diagnoses.

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Fixing You: Shoulder & Elbow Pain: Self-treatment for rotator cuff strain, shoulder impingement, tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, and other diagnoses.

The shoulders are a floating system on the trunk, held in place and moved by muscular control. The foundation of shoulder movement is the shoulder blade which has precise resting and moving...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.