Shoulder Impingement: Degradation, Inflammation, and What You Can Do To Stop It.

With the rise of the fitness industry, shoulder impingement is becoming a more prevalent ailment. This month, we’re going to take a look at shoulder impingement is, how it’s caused, and what you can do to prevent it from happening.

Firstly, we must look into what shoulder impingement really is.

Shoulder impingement is the inflammation/degradation of the Supraspinatus muscle. This muscle is located on the superior (top) portion of your scapula (shoulder blade). It originates from the supraspinous fossa of your scapula, runs underneath the Acromion process of your scapula (this will be important later), and inserts onto your humerus (upper arm bone). This muscle is apart of what is commonly referred to as your rotator cuff, and is responsible for abduction (moving away from center line of the body) of the arm, deceleration of the arm during adduction (bring toward the center line of the body), and stabilization of the shoulder girdle.

How can the Supraspinatus muscle become inflamed over time?

Exercises that have become contraindicated (deemed hazardous or cause more harm than good) or improper lifting technique are the usual culprits. Two of the best examples of contraindicated exercises that have been shown to cause shoulder impingement are the “behind the head” barbell shoulder press and “behind the head” lat pulldowns. Recall that your Supraspinatus runs underneath your Acromion process. There are also nerves, blood vessels, and more running through this small space. The position your arms are in for the barbell press naturally activates your Supraspinatus (abduction and stabilization). The action of bringing a load up and down behind your head will cause your Supraspinatus muscle to rub against roof of your Acromion process. This rubbing, over time, will cause inflammation and degradation of the muscle. The inflammation, on top of being painful, also decreases the amount of space in your glenohumeral (shoulder) joint, leaving less room for the blood vessels and nerves that run through the same spot.

What can you do to prevent shoulder impingement?

Proper lifting technique and a variety of exercises will be key in this fight. For example, keeping your arms more forward and using dumbbells for a shoulder press will be a much safer option. Your Glenoid Fossa (shoulder socket) naturally faces front and out. Keeping your arms forward and out will allow your muscles to align more efficiently, allowing for a more natural and beneficial movement.