7 typically Weakened Muscles That Cause Pain
In reference to the post about 8 Typically Tight Muscles That Cause Muscle Imbalance, this post is about the opposing typically weakened muscles that cause pain and postural distortion. Again, there can be more muscles involved, in fact there are more muscles involved, but I am strictly focusing on the ones I deal with on a daily basis.
Now you would think if a muscle is weakened and lengthened, that it wouldn’t have any knots but that is the opposite. They absolutely have knots due to trying to resist the over dominant opposing muscles. In that case they are under constant stress. Your body being as great as it is compensates by forming bonds of muscle tissue and connective tissue to reinforce strength.
Those newly formed adhesions can impede nerve function by compressing against the nerve giving you a sensation of pain, tingling or potentially numbness. This is why I always stress releasing the muscles! There is no way your muscles can function properly if they are riddled with knots and adhesions.
Take the time before and after exercise to do some self myofascial release with a foam roller and lacrosse ball. I promise it will make a difference.
So with all that being said, the 7 typically weakened muscles that cause pain are listed below.
Middle and Lower Traps
The middle and lower traps are in a constant battle with the ever pulling upper traps. As the upper traps become tighter and tighter, they stretch the middle and lower trap muscle fibers. In order to keep these muscles functional, you must release your upper traps.
To strengthen these muscles: use the WTA exercises daily. Be sure to squeeze and hold the shoulder blades together for 4-5 seconds each rep.
To release these muscles: using a lacrosse ball against the wall or on the floor works best. You can also use a theracane. Hold longer on tender spots.
As mentioned in a previous post, this muscle is a contributor to a significant amount of shoulder pain when it has active trigger points. The referral can lead to the shoulder, upper and mid back, and down the arm. This muscle, along with the 3 other rotator cuff muscles have an important role in shoulder stability so it’s no question why if this muscle becomes weak, shoulder problems arise. Please read What’s Causing Numbness and Tingling Down the Arm.
To strengthen: Use external shoulder rotation exercises either with a resistance band, dumbbell or cable. Prior to doing those exercises make sure you use either a lacrosse ball or a theracane to relieve and knots or tension in the muscle.
This muscle opposes AND works with the anterior deltoid. Unfortunately for many, the anterior deltoid becomes dominant and overpowers the posterior deltoid. Think about how many times your arms are forward throughout the day, rather than moving posteriorly. To add to that, pectoralis tension and tightness can cause more stress on a already weakened posterior deltoid.
To strengthen: Rear delt flies, Horizontal pulls
These muscles often fuse together fascially and become one big muscle in most people. Notice where they attach. Because they have attachments on the scapula and thoracic spine, dysfunction in these muscles will heavily influence those structures. A sign of rhomboidal weakness is rounded shoulder posture. Rounded shoulder posture will rarely occur if your rhomboids are nice and strong.
The rhomboids compete with your often much stronger pectoralis muscles so it’s important to make sure you stretch and release your pecs often. Over tight pectorals will make it much harder to engage your rhomboid muscles during exercise.
To strengthen: WTA’s are a great exercise for upper back strengthening. They are easy to do and you can do them virtually anywhere. As with the other muscles, be sure to release any tension prior to doing these exercises.
This is another rotator cuff muscle that is often weak AND gets overused. Anytime a weak muscle gets overused it’s only a matter of time before pain ensues. Any type of shoulder movement will cause this muscle to activate. You need to erase the thought that you don’t think a muscle is being used just because you don’t do any exercises for it. Something as simple as driving a car will activate this muscle.
Remember, just because you don’t feel a muscle working, doesn’t mean it’s not working! Do not forget that.
To Strengthen: We can work the same exercise for this muscle as the infraspinatus, external rotation.
Now that you have the information, what are you going to do with it?