Let’s discuss normal shoulder resting posture so we can determine if there is a link between a postural deviation and pain. Static postural analysis is performed before range-of-motion examinations, orthopedic testing, movement pattern assessments and palpation analysis. When I perform a static posture evaluation, I focus on subtle asymmetries or deviations from normal patterns to aid my diagnostic decisions and treatment transition decisions (passive care to active therapy). I allow myself the time to pause and focus on what I see posturally before beginning other procedures. The changes I see in static posture and functional-movement assessments, visit to visit, help me navigate through the treatment process.
I ask the patient to stand with their shoes off, hands at their sides, in their normal, relaxed position. The evaluation is done with the person in a standing position, which accounts for the normal effect of gravity on the individual. I observe the patient from the front, side and posterior. I look to see the person’s chronic holding patterns.
Look for postural deviations, including forward head, forward shoulders (scapular protraction), humeral internal rotation, and increased thoracic kyphosis. All of these deviations have been implicated in the development of shoulder pain.1-4