Is your shoulder pain being caused by spinal stiffness?

Dr Nick Crameri (Osteopath)


Shoulder pain prevalence ranks second only to low back pain (84%) and on equal footing with neck pain (66%). Be it with throwing sports like cricket, weight training in the gym or mundane tasks such as hanging the washing out, it’s likely we may experience pain in the shoulder at some point in our lives.


Whilst the structural causes are often strained tendons or inflammation of bursa, the underlying reason for why this happens may lie elsewhere.


Our body works as a whole, thus when we do tasks like those mentioned above, our shoulder shouldn’t move by itself. Try throwing a ball without moving your torso, hips or head. There’s a good chance the ball won’t go very far, it’ll feel odd and your arm will tire quickly.


Though an exaggeration, you can see that if we have a restriction anywhere along our spine or other involved joints we will be relying on the shoulder to work harder to accomplish the same movement. This can overload those structures that ultimately cause us pain.


For the safest, most efficient movement, our bodies need to evenly disperse the correct range of motion (ROM) available at each joint/segment of our body. With reference to the spine, each segment needs to rotate and side bend sufficiently to permit full shoulder ROM.

Even something as simple as raising our arm out to the side of our body requires the neck to rotate as much as 5 degrees.


A way to offset any spinal restriction is with a simple exercise. Rest a broom on your shoulders, behind your head, and simply rotate left and right, swinging as free and loose as you can. Do this before exercise or even after a long day at work to keep the spine loose and the shoulder free to move.

shoulder pain

More persistent pain, or a history of spinal injuries may require further specified management, so come down to Hobson’s Bay Osteopathy where any one of our fantastic Osteopaths will be able to assist.