Bad shoulders: Have you heard of 2:1 ratio?

Would you like to take a closer look at your Rotator cuff ? Just click on the link to watch a video of how your rotator cuff muscles work!

The shoulder is a very mobile joint where the stability is controlled by rotator cuff muscles. There are a total of 4 rotator cuff muscles; 2 in the back, one on top and one in the front of your shoulder.

rotator-cuff-muscles

Shoulder blade is the powerhouse for your shoulder. Faulty posture, any strength or flexibility imbalance in the rotator cuff will lead to a movement deficit, therefore, can cause pain on the top, in the front or in the back of your shoulder.

Pain on top of your shoulder can occur when your arm bone is no longer in the center of the joint and not depressed enough during overhead lifting or reaching across or behind your body.

Due to forward head posture and lack of stretching of the chest, one will end up with rounded shoulders. This situation weakens the rotator cuff. Therefore biceps brachii and pectoralis major end up overworking and tightens, then the tendon gets inflamed which can create pain in front of the shoulder. 

Any joint is formed of two bones with space in between that is filled up with synovial fluid. Joint capsule wraps all around the joint to seal it and prevent synovial fluid from leaking. Think of it as a tight sleeve that is enclosing your shoulder. When biomechanics of your shoulder is altered due to muscle imbalance, the joint capsule can get pinched between two bones which can create pain on the back of your shoulder.


badposture

In the picture, the purple line indicates where the arm bone(humerus) is, and the yellow line indicates where it really needs to be: pretty much aligned with the side of the torso not so much in the front!

Next time you are in the gym, look for guys with well-defined shoulders and chest, and pretty flat upper backs that lack much muscle tone. Many people work their chest and forget about their back. After a chest day in the gym followed by no stretching, lack of upper back (shoulder blades specifically) workout and increased tightness in the front of the body will contribute to bad shoulder posture and biomechanics.

What about 2:1 ratio?

Considering gravitational force is always towards the ground, in order to keep you upright against gravity, your back muscles need to work harder than your front muscles. Therefore ideal workout ratio for the back/ front is 2:1. Meaning, you can do twice as many reputations, you can spend twice as much time or you can use twice as much weight for your back. Pay more attention to your upper back!

Takehome points:

  • Fix your posture; stand up straight
  • Work your upper back more than your chest

images are retrieved from:

  1. http://doctor-t.com/blog/rotator-cuff-tears
  2. http://glamnerds.com
  3. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/02/alignment-matters-in-yoga-colin-hall/

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