If you’ve ever looked in the mirror and noticed that your shoulders are uneven, you know what a worrying ordeal that can be. Is there something tragically or permanently wrong? Will it get worse? Is there a way to fix uneven shoulders? These questions can whirl through one’s head if confronted with this problem.
Thankfully, we have accessible and effective treatment options for uneven shoulders. There is no need to endure the symptoms and complications of uneven shoulders, such as shoulder pain, muscle tightness, headaches, and tendonitis.
Chiropractic treatment is one of the leading and most cost-effective therapeutic options available to those who suffer from uneven shoulders. Below is an exploration of what can cause and how to fix uneven shoulders through professional chiropractic treatment!
Why are My Shoulders Uneven?
Contrary to popular belief, scoliosis isn’t the sole cause of uneven shoulders. In addition to scoliosis, uneven shoulders can be caused by several conditions, including:
- Poor posture
- Muscle imbalances
- Nerve damage
- Having a dominant side
Scoliosis is a condition typified by an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine, meaning that the spine does not sit in a straight line horizontally. In some cases, one shoulder blade is higher than the other, and subsequently, uneven shoulders occur. The causes of scoliosis are not fully understood, but there is a strong genetic component.
Bad posture can cause a slight or significant difference in shoulder height between the right and left sides. A Korean study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that postural habits can make one shoulder higher than the other. Poor posture can also cause rounded shoulders, leading to tight muscles in the shoulder area and creating a disparity between the height of the left shoulder and the right shoulder.
Muscular imbalances occur when one muscle in a group of muscles is larger, stronger, or different in any way, causing abnormal functioning and movement. A muscle imbalance can result from sports, other physical activities, improper posture, and natural causes. For example, if a shoulder muscle is imbalanced, the shoulder blade on the corresponding side might be positioned unnaturally.
According to researchers from the University of Texas, the University of Tennessee, and the Midwestern University, damage to the nerves linked to the upper trapezius muscle can impair posture and result in imbalanced muscles. This muscle controls the shoulder blades; if it functions abnormally, the shoulder level on either side could be affected.
The majority of people have a dominant side, i.e., a preference for one arm, one hand, one leg, or one foot over the other. Over time, seemingly innocuous actions, like wearing a laptop bag on one shoulder over the other, can eventually lead to adversely impacted shoulder posture. Uneven shoulders may result from weight-bearing exclusively on one side.
Is It Normal to Have Uneven Shoulders?
There are numerous ways shoulder blades may be positioned differently from their counterparts on the opposite side. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 3% of Americans deal with scoliosis, only one of the many causes of uneven shoulders. Uneven shoulders are a common cause of pain, discomfort, and emotional distress.
How Does Chiropractic Care Help Fix Uneven Shoulders?
Chiropractors have the ideal skillset and knowledge base to treat uneven shoulders. Unlike physical therapists, chiropractors ensure that body parts are correctly aligned, making them the ideal professionals to use if your shoulders aren’t the same height.
Exercises for Uneven Shoulders
Chiropractors often use exercises to fix uneven shoulders, supplemented by specialized stretches and elements a massage therapist would use. This combination is a perfect remedy for the symptoms of uneven shoulders, such as pain and visible disparity. Below is an example of what an exercise program for uneven shoulders might entail.
Using a resistance band, create a loop attached to a stable fixture, such as a doorknob. While facing forward toward the fixture, hold the resistance band with the hand on the same side of the affected shoulder and hold the arm at 90 degrees as the starting position. Slowly extend the arm until the band is taut and return to the starting position. Akin to most single-arm exercises, remember to maintain a flat back and repeat the exercise.
Circular motion is crucial to the healthy functioning of the shoulders. As such, rotation exercises are a great way to correct uneven shoulders.
To achieve a shoulder internal rotation:
- Attach the resistance band to a stable fixture again, ensuring that you face the fixture.
- Hold the band with the affected side and create a 90-degree angle.
- Bring the forearm of that side across the body until the band is taut and the shoulder is internally rotated.
- Return to the starting position and repeat as necessary.
To achieve an external rotation of the shoulder, assume the same starting position as the exercise for internal shoulder rotation and gently pull the band outwards so that the forearm moves away from the body.
Stand with a straightened back and keep both arms straight in their normal position. Lift your shoulders towards your ear, squeezing as much as possible. Hold this pose for a few moments and release.
Stretches for Uneven Shoulders
A shoulder stretch is a great option to correct uneven shoulders for patients who need a more gentle and gradual approach.
Reverse Prayer Pose
Bring your palms together behind your back, with the tips of your fingers facing the ground. Next, straighten your chest and bring your shoulders backward before rotating your joined hands so that your fingertips face the ceiling. Hold for a few seconds before relaxing.
Take the arm of the affected side across your body, keeping the arm straight. Next, take the palm from the unaffected side and pull the upper arm of the treatment side across your body. Hold for 30 seconds and release.
How to Sleep With Uneven Shoulders
Sleeping in an uncomfortable position can exacerbate pain for individuals with uneven shoulders. Therefore, it is vital to sleep appropriately while the impacted scapular stabilizes. Use a pillow, blanket, or towel to support the arm of the affected side while sleeping.
Ready to Fix Your Uneven Shoulders? Dr. Doerr Can Help!
At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. Our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Access our contact form or call us at (201) 945-4075 to learn more about our chiropractic services! Our chiropractic offices at 532 Anderson Avenue, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010, and 62 Summit Ave, Hackensack, NJ 07601, are ready to welcome you as we proudly serve New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, PA, and Baltimore, MD, areas. Also, feel free to access our blog, Facebook, and Instagram pages for more information on chiropractic treatments!
- Cronkleton, Emily. “Uneven Shoulders: Scoliosis, Exercises, Treatments, and More.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 22 May 2018, www.healthline.com/health/uneven-shoulders. Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.
- “Scoliosis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/scoliosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350716. Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.
- Lee, Do Youn, et al. “Changes in Rounded Shoulder Posture and Forward Head Posture According to Exercise Methods.” Journal of Physical Therapy Science, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5684019/. Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.