The Shoulder Complex

he shoulder complex refers to much more than just our shoulder. Function of our shoulder joint requires interaction between muscles of the neck, the arm, the shoulder and the shoulder blade! Similar to our hip joint, the shoulder is known as a ball and socket joint – the ball being our upper arm and the socket being the cavity at the outermost point of our shoulder blade.

The shoulder can access a huge variety of movements in all directions such as flexion (reaching up), abduction (reaching out) and a large amount of rotation which allows us to reach behind our back or behind our head – all really important movements in day-to-day life!

One of the biggest differences between the ball and socket of the hip and that of the shoulder, is that the shoulder socket is much shallower – this means the joint is typically less stable than the hip. However, our body makes up for this instability at the shoulder through the ROTATOR CUFF.

You may have heard of the rotator cuff before and not been too sure what it is. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that originate from around the shoulder blade and upper arm which aid in stabilising the shoulder joint prior to, and throughout, movement of the arm.

Issues often arise at the shoulder complex due to a weakness somewhere in the rotator cuff or tightness in muscles within the shoulder complex which alter the movement patterns we have. These problems can occasionally lead to an injury known as impingement. Shoulder impingement typically presents as pain around the front or top of the shoulder when raising the arm above the head. Patients often describe a ‘pinching’ feeling within the shoulder joint. Shoulder impingement typically responds well to strengthening and movement-based exercises to address altered movement patterns and weakness thus helping the ball and socket move in a more efficient way!

Keep an eye on our social media accounts for a more detailed demonstration of the articulation of the shoulder joint, followed soon by exercise ideas for managing impingement!