Friday, January 6, 2012

Your Shoulder’s Kinetic Chain

Your shoulder’s kinetic chain is made up of a complex series of related structures (links) which connect your shoulders to your neck, arms, core, hips, and lower extremities. These connections include muscles, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissues.

Your shoulder is a truly amazing piece of engineering. When functioning correctly, force and energy are easily transferred from your hips and lower extremity, through your core, and into your shoulders.
But, as remarkable as these interconnections are, they can also be the root cause of many chronic dysfunctions. That is why our exercise routines focus on key areas of power transference with a focus on whole-body stability.

As we discussed earlier, your body’s kinetic chain can be viewed as a synergistic chain of links. When one part of the link goes down, the whole chain loses function.
To understand this principle as it relates to your shoulder, let us consider one of these links — the Latissimus Dorsi muscle.
  • Normally, the latissimus dorsi functions to extend your arm, adduct your arm (bringing your arm towards the centre of your body), and internally rotate your arm at the shoulder joint.
  • The latissimus dorsi originates at the crest of your pelvis (iliac crest), connects to the spinous processes of the thoracic vertebrae (T7 to T12), and inserts into your upper arm (intertubercular groove of the humerus) as part of the shoulder complex.
Because of the latissimus dorsi’s numerous attachment sites, any restriction in this muscle has the potential to cause problems from the hips right up to the shoulder. Restrictions anywhere along this path can result in reduced shoulder function. Yes, we recognize that it is strange to imagine that a restriction in your hip is contributing to all those shoulder problems, but it occurs quite often. Once you understand these kinetic chain inter-relationships, it becomes obvious why exercise and treatment recommendations need to focus on much more than strengthening or stretching isolated muscle groups in just the shoulder joint.

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