How a Tight Shoulder Leads to Back pain

He was sitting at the table as the casserole was being passed to him from his right. He tried bringing his hand over to the right to take the dish and experienced some discomfort in his shoulder. Instead, he leaned his body to the right to grab the dish and continued dinner. You see whats wrong here? Instead of having adequate flexibility in his right shoulder, he used his trunk and spine to help him out. These are the types of moves that get us in trouble, especially if the problem is one sided.

Having adequate flexibility is underrated. Most people feel that it is "good" to stretch and not necessary. Having adequate range of motion keeps us from compensating and using a neighboring joint from helping out which can lead to a strain in the short term and missalignment in the long term.

Don't Get it, Try this:

Put both hands out in front of you  and elbows tucked into your side as if somebody is about to pass you a newborn. Keeping your elbows tucked in, start to veer your hands away from each other. Does one  hand go farther than the other? Do you start to lean to one side? If so, the side that doesn't go as far or the leaning side can be indicative of shoulder tightness.


Dr. Joshua Mazalian, DPT, OCS, CSCS is the owner of JAM Sports and Spine in Los Angeles and specializes in sports and orthopedic physical therapy. You can reach him on Twitter @jamsportsPT and Facebook as well as email at