During dynamic, full-body activities the muscles around the pelvis, hips and lower back such as the glutes, hip rotators, abdominals, hip flexors and erector spinae group (to name a few) are designed perfectly to help dissipate tremendous movement forces as they pass through the body. However, if the bony structures of this area of the body are out of alignment then all of the structures of the upper body are disrupted as the thoracic spine, shoulders, head and neck must compensate to try to keep the body balanced. This can lead to neck and shoulder pain. For example, the vestibular system helps keep our head aligned over our center of pelvis whenever we are standing, walking and/or engaged in other activities. As such, if the pelvis (and hips and lumbar spine) are out of alignment, then the neck, head and shoulders must compensate and shift out of their correct position to ensure the body stays balanced (see image).
As these compensation patterns of the neck and shoulders become habitual, and exacerbated during weight bearing movements, pain and dysfunction can result causing long-term reoccurring neck and shoulder pain. While you might think that this type of musculoskeletal imbalance is uncommon, performing a simple assessment (covered in Part 2 of this blog) on all of your clients will highlight the fact that many of them have dysfunction and misalignment issues with their pelvis, hips and lower back that may in fact be the underlying cause of their neck and shoulder pain. Click here for Part 2 and learn the assessment.