“Pandemic Shoulder”–Why You Have Front-of-Shoulder Pain

By Jae Gruenke | Injury Recovery

Sep 18

Today for a change I’m not writing about a running injury per se, but about why you may have recently started waking up in the night with pain on the front of one or both shoulders.

This is pretty much an epidemic right now. I’ve got friends and family struggling with it, and I even had a bit of trouble with it myself a few months back until I figured out what was going on.

I’m calling it “pandemic shoulders” because it’s caused by spending so many hours at a poorly set-up desk. That doesn’t have to be because of the COVID pandemic, but so many people are working from home in places that weren’t set up to be used for long hours of work for month after month (after month…) that it’s rapidly become widespread.

In fact, it’s become so common there was even an article in the New York Times a week ago about it, The Pandemic of Work-from-Home Injuries.

At the time the article appeared I was in the middle of trying to help my mom with a particularly bad case of it, so I decided to share the key info about how to deal with the root cause: your desk setup.

This information does actually belong on a running technique blog not just because I care about you and want to help you out, but also because the very aspects of your work setup that are causing your shoulder pain are also causing other problems for your running.

The rounded back and narrowed chest I demonstrate in the video below cause your feet to land too far in front of you–also known as excessive overstriding. That means you’ll also be sitting back behind your foot in midstance, overworking your quads and potentially irritating your patellar tendon to cause runner’s knee. And when you get to toe-off your weight will still be too far back, stressing your plantar fascia and potentially causing plantar fasciitis/fasciosis.

I’ve written about this movement pattern a great deal. To understand it better, check out my blog series on Forward Head Posture and my blog series on What Sitting Does to Your Running.

But trying to fix your running form is pointless if you don’t fix your desk first. After all, you spend much more time working at your desk than actually running! Here’s my video on shoulder pain and how to get started fixing your desk:

 As I said in the video, I’ve got a course that will walk you through all the aspects of your workstation that can impact your running form and show you exactly how to fix them. You’ll also get a Healthy Desk Setup Guide and a Resource Guide of inexpensive ergonomic equipment that meets my criteria so you don’t have to spend even more time hunched in front of your laptop shopping.

It will save you a ton of money on so-called “ergonomic” chairs and gadgets that don’t really solve your problems.

There’s not much I can do about the COVID pandemic, but I can help you out with your shoulder pain at least. So I’m offering 20% off my Ergonomics for Runners course through October 2020. Use discount code healthyshoulders when you check out.

Get Ergonomics for Runners

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About the Author

Jae Gruenke, GCFP, is a running technique expert and Feldenkrais Practitioner. Known as a “running form guru,” she is the Founder and CEO of The Balanced Runner™ in New York City and The Balanced Runner UK. She has helped runners from beginner to Olympian improve their form to become pain-free, economical, and fast.

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