Submitted by Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy

It can sometimes be hard to see what you are doing wrong in your lifestyle because, well, it’s your lifestyle. Your daily routine is so well known to you that it can become second nature to read before bed, look on your tablet, or go for that game of golf on a Friday night. What if I told you that all of these could be making your shoulder pain worse? That all of these movements cause unnecessary strain on your shoulders, leaving you in pain the next day? So I’ve given you a few ways to get a great benefit to easing shoulder pain in your day-today routine.

penrose physical therapy olympia pain reading
Photo courtesy: Penrose Physical Therapy

Don’t forget to stretch. I know this is something I say often, but it’s because a stretch can often be underestimated. Imagine this: someone has been in the same position for roughly 8 hours, without much movement. Would you think they would need to stretch afterwards? I bet your answer would be, Yes! Exactly. You may have woken up but your joints haven’t yet. It’s like going for a run without warming up. So with this in mind, stretch before you get up. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, it’s better than doing nothing.

Looking at your phone or tablet has to be one of the worst culprits for shoulder pain. Yes, looking at your phone or tablet can have an effect on your neck as well, but the pain often starts at the neck and spreads to your shoulders. I understand that you may need to check emails on your tablet, or you are very popular on your phone, but with many of us spending hours on our devices, it interrupts our body’s natural state. Since your head is facing down using these devices, it can result in poor posture and slouching. What most people don’t know is that your head is supposed to be in a position where your head is in line with your shoulders. As soon as you start looking down, your body is more likely to feel a strain in the neck and shoulders. My advice on this would be to only use your phone for about 10 minutes at a time to avoid strain. As for other devices, now we have cases for them that can sometimes provide stands for tablets and e-readers. Perfect! My tip here would be to take advantage of the stand and use it, so that your eyes do the adjusting, not your head!

This also goes for reading at night too. I understand that reading at night is sometimes a habit picked up as a child, a great habit. For your body, however, it can sometimes have an effect on your posture. Another problem that can come from reading at night is actually from holding the book. It’s not something you really think about, but holding a book can cause particular muscles to be tensed. Not only this, but your neck is also likely to be tensed to keep you upright while reading. Now think of how long you read for. How many times do you say, “Just one more chapter” before you finally drift off?

Another great way of thinking about your shoulder pain throughout the day is to think about when it occurs. Is it when you tend to carry the shopping, when you sit at work or while you exercise? If you have an idea of when it occurs, then focus on making sure your head is straight and your ears are in line with your shoulders. This is the best tip that I know. If you apply it to as much of your daily routine as possible, you will start to notice a difference.  Posture is so key to keeping neck and shoulder pain at bay.

The author, Jennifer Penrose, is a Physical Therapist and owner of Penrose Physical Therapy in Lacey, WA. If you have any questions about neck and shoulder pain or headaches, you can call 360.456.1444 or email  If you want some immediate helpful tips please download the free tips reports on shoulder pain or neck pain on the Penrose Physical Therapy website.

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