Is Your Stiff Shoulder Holding You Back?

Is Your Stiff Shoulder Holding You Back?

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Do you have difficulty reaching up to the top cupboard? Is it hard or painful to reach into the back of the car? Or maybe it’s even difficult to scratch that itch on your back because your shoulder won’t let you.

These are just some of the many examples we here on a weekly basis about someone’s daily life being affected by their shoulder. Having a restriction in movement can be quite frustrating, especially in our shoulders, since we use our arms so much throughout the day.

Parts of our Movement Revolution Classes focus on Shoulder stretches, correcting imbalances, and improving strength.
Parts of our Movement Revolution Classes focus on Shoulder stretches, correcting imbalances, and improving strength.

There can be several different reasons why your shoulder can feel stiff. First I will mention the most obvious. Your shoulder can feel very stiff after major trauma or surgery. This is very normal. A gradual stretching and strengthening program is needed to ensure this stiffness will fully resolve. Sometimes your shoulder can feel stiff when it actually isn’t. Here are 4 examples:

  • Neck – issues with your neck can sometimes make your shoulder muscles weak and give you the sensation of tightness.
  • Mid-Back – stiffness in your mid back can make it difficult for you to move your shoulders to their full capacity.
  • Muscle weakness – sometimes you can feel like your shoulders are stiff, when in fact they are just weak and so your muscles don’t have the capacity to move your shoulders repeatedly into certain positions.
  • Pain – you can feel like your shoulders are very stiff when you are in pain, but often it is just the pain that is stopping you from moving. This can apply to pain from muscles, tendons, joints, etc.

Your shoulder is a very mobile joint and true stiffness of this joint isn’t as common as you might think; however, here are two examples of true shoulder stiffness:

  • Previous injury can have long-lasting effects; even injuries you sustain as a child can have an effect into adulthood. This applies to fractures, joint sprains muscle/tendon injuries. These injuries can cause muscle/joint tightness that will remain unless identified and addressed. Avoiding these stiff positions will then make them more stiff over time.
  • Frozen Shoulder – most of us will have heard of frozen shoulder at some stage. It can be frustrating, debilitating and sometimes long-lasting. It is characterised by pain and significant stiffness in the shoulder. 

You can see from the last 6 examples that stiffness in your shoulder isn’t totally straight forward and putting your finger on the cause is sometimes challenging. This is why a comprehensive assessment is essential. At APC Physio Clinic, we will aim to not only find the source of the issue but the cause; this is to ensure you get long-lasting effects. 

Often it isn’t just one of these issues. It can be a combination. We will use a combination of hands-on treatment techniques to have your shoulder feeling less stiff and take you through an individualised program comprising of stretches and strengthening exercises. You can see a couple of easy shoulder stretches here and here. 

If your shoulder stiffness/pain is frustrating you, don’t hesitate to call us (025 35015) to book an appointment or even to simply talk to one of our Physios about your issue.


If you have any other queries or you are not quite sure where to begin, feel free to contact us online here, via email, or over the phone.

You can also avail of a free 15-minute physio consultation in the clinic with one of our physiotherapists. You can book online at Or

Give us a call on 02535015 Fermoy Main Office or APC Cork, Club Vitae Clinic calls can be made to 085 7740559 today to talk through any questions and concerns you may have. Thanks for reading!

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