Shoulder pain is common in rowers due to poking out ones chin – the Guru suggests thoracic spine stretching

March 9, 2015

I’m a keen rower. Over the past three months I’ve had ongoing shoulder pain starting from under my right shoulder blade, but spreading round my shoulder.

I think it was caused by a yoga move gone wrong. It gets worse with over use, but is not acute, nor does it affect movement. I also have tight muscles in my neck on the same side.

Stretching/pilates and rest doesn’t seem to help for long. I’m keen to understand what I can do to get back to regular training.



March 9, 2015

Hi Max

Pretty common stuff in rowers – and it’s normally attributed to you poking your chin out too much.

As your mid back get tighter from rowing, using screens and daily posture it makes you slouch forward.

In stead of looking at the floor to see where you’re going you bend your lower back, back slightly and poke your chin out.

Rowing really exaggerates the stiff, flexed thoracic spine and at the end of each stroke you like your chin out.

Doing this repetitive action to your neck makes the middle bit become relatively more mobile and if you cannot control this the joints will start to react. They classically refer pain to under your shoulder blade. You try to compensate to the symptom and in doing so put other bits of your bod under strain.

Stretching your shoulder is out. Stretching your thoracic spine is in. Keeping your head on neck motion controllable is key.

Pilates (of the the good type!) is great – as long as you’ve got the ability to move your thoracic spine more and your neck less.

Good luck!

The Guru

Six Physio

Guru Responded

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