Here’s a wild fact: At any point in time, one in four adults are dealing with shoulder pain. It’s common enough where you can’t just chalk up all that pain to acute or chronic shoulder injuries that might arise from playing sports or lifting weights. In fact, some of the most common causes of shoulder pain are just everyday bad (or less-than-ideal) habits.
Lara Heimann, DPT, a physical therapist and the creator of the LYT Method, says that the shoulders are particularly prone to muscle aches due to the complexity of the surrounding anatomy. “The shoulder joint has a wide range of motion, allowing for various arm movements. This flexibility makes it susceptible to muscle imbalances, strains, and overuse injuries,” says Dr. Heimann. “Muscle imbalances, where certain muscles are stronger or weaker than others, can also be contributors to pain. Weakness in the muscles that support the shoulder blades, for example, may lead to instability of the shoulder joint and lead to discomfort in the surrounding area.”
Given the complexity of the area, there’s a lot of surprising ways that you can develop shoulder pain. But Dr. Heimann says that there are several very common habits that can make your shoulders ache—and some of them are pretty surprising. Keep reading to get the full list.
What are the most common causes of shoulder pain?
Okay, granted, there are some bad habits we do on the reg that pretty clearly will cause shoulder pain. Enemy number one: Bad posture. “Poor posture, such as slouching or hunching, is a big culprit that contributes to shoulder discomfort,” says Dr. Heimann. (Did you straighten up as you read that? Same.) That’s because rounded shoulders—which often happen when you’re slouching—place extra stress on the muscles, which can cause tension and pain, she says.
Generally, you should also be mindful about exercises or activities that overwork your shoulders. “Activities involving repetitive overhead movements, like lifting or reaching, may strain the shoulder muscles,” Dr. Heimann says.
As for the specific things that commonly cause (or