This is a question we as physical therapists get asked quite often, and the easy answer is that it most likely contributes. A recent study in the Journal of Elbow and Shoulder Surgery demonstrated that individuals with poor posture have up to a 63% increased risk of having a rotator cuff tear in the shoulder compared to individuals who have ideal posture.
The rotator cuff consists of 4 muscles in the shoulder that have 1 major job. That is to hold the head of the humerus (ball on the arm bone) in ideal alignment with the glenoid fossa (cup on the shoulder blade) as other muscles move the arm around.
Just above the rotator cuff is what we call the acromion, which is a bony part of the shoulder blade that sits like an arch over the humerus/arm bone.
When we hold ourselves in bad posture, particularly with our head and shoulders forward in a slouched position, the space between the acromion and the humerus is significantly reduced, causing much more compression on the rotator cuff when we move our arm. Over time, this can lead to early degeneration of this tissue, resulting in tearing and loss of function.
Try this test if you are still curious:
Sit up tall, in good posture, with your head held upright and shoulders back. Now raise your arms out in front of you and all the way over your head. Feel how free and easy your shoulders move
Now slouch and allow your shoulders to round. Try raising your arms in the same manner. Feel how restricted this is. Some may have pain or pinching, which is attributed to the rotator cuff or surrounding tissues being compressed into the acromion.
If you struggle with your posture and are starting to develop shoulder pain, don’t let your symptoms progress to real damage. Check out our website for tips on how to improve your posture and/or call our clinic and ask to speak with one of our experts during a free discovery session.