What Causes Tight Shoulders?
The normal structure of the neck will have the head sitting directly over the shoulders. When a structural shift has occurred in the neck, the head will often move towards the front, which we call Anterior Head Syndrome. When this shift occurs we’ll often find “vertebral locking” in the spine (http://tinyurl.com/c5ey6u2). The combination of these two will cause the shoulder muscles to spasm, in attempt to support the extra weight caused by the structural shift. The tight shoulder muscles are what we call “secondary conditions” because as you might have guessed, they are a result of the structural shift in the spine (the tight muscles are the symptom, not the true cause of the problem).
The secondary conditions associated with this are often pain or numbness in the shoulders, neck, and sometimes into the hands. It’s also common to find someone with tension headaches to have this condition. This is most commonly found those who sit all day or are at a computer all day, but can be found in many others as well. If left uncorrected for an extended period of time, spinal degeneration will often take place.
Let’s look at a real life example below.
In the picture you will notice normal on the left. There is a banana shaped curve towards the front and the vertical blue line touches the front of the spine. You will also notice the distance between the yellow line and the shoulders (the shoulders appear as the hazy white area below the yellow line). On the right a structural shift has occurred and there are some very clear indicators of this. The head has shifted forward (anterior head syndrome). You will notice the lack of curve in addition to the space between the blue line and the front of the spine. This indicates Anterior Head Syndrome is present and the shoulders will become “tight” or in “spasm” as a result (a secondary condition). This is obvious when you look at the distance between the yellow line and the shoulders. Since the shoulders are supporting extra weight, they become tense (think of raising your shoulders up towards your ears, instead of in the normal relaxed position).
There are many out there who will focus on the shoulders (the secondary condition) as the problem. Although they always mean well, they usually aren’t addressing the primary source of the problem. Our focus is on correcting the structural issue in the spine and the secondary issues will resolve themselves.
(click to enlarge)