Shoulder impingement syndrome is a very common diagnosis for shoulder pain. While coming up with the right diagnosis is obviously important, it’s just as important to figure out the why behind the diagnosis. In the case of shoulder impingement, a few things should be considered as to what could be causing the pinching in the shoulder to happen.
Evaluating thoracic (mid-back) mobility is essential when dealing with shoulder pain. It’s common to see limitations with extension and rotation in the thoracic spine when shoulder impingement is present. Oftentimes these movements become limited because of postural imbalances and sitting in a slouched, rounded forward position.
This rounded position narrows the space in the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint and can lead to pain and pinching in the shoulder when moving the arm through different ranges of motion. Thoracic mobility is also important for overhead athletes. It allows the athlete to generate more power and torque without overstressing the shoulder.
Another thing to consider is scapular (shoulder blade) stability. The stabilizing muscles of the scapula (serratus anterior, rhomboids, trapezius & levator scapulae) provide a stable base to allow the shoulder to move in the most efficient manner. If they aren’t doing their job the shoulder has to work harder, it’s placed under more stress, and it can lead to pain and the development of shoulder impingement syndrome.