Lifestyle Physio Cronulla Blog

Does your shoulder load = shoulder tolerance?

Shoulder fatigue.

Ever tried hanging a curtain? Or even a doona cover on the line? And thought you needed a break? Shoulder fatigue is a real thing, and can occur for many reasons.

Frustratingly shoulder pain and dysfunction is extremely common, and something most of us will experience at some time in our lives.

So what can we do about it?

Firstly, it is important that we do a thorough and complete assessment. Why can’t we diagnose this over email or at a Sunday BBQ?

Because it is complex!

Your neck can refer pain and dysfunction to your shoulder, as can your thoracic spine, your scapula and scapula-thoracic region and then of course actual true shoulder dysfunction.

The shoulder joint (the gleno-humeral joint) is not a stable one. It isn’t like the ball and socket of the hip, it relies on lots of muscle control to keep it working. Without strong muscles around the joint, it can become lax putting strain on alternative tissues to take the load.

We can see shoulder laxity affecting the nerves around the joint. Your arm is heavy, at 5 or more kilos, and when it doesn’t have good muscle control that weight “hangs” on your non-contractile tissues (your ligaments, fascia, nerves etc). 5 kilos “hanging” on nerve tissue causes irritation… and pain… and dysfunction.

So, if you are incorrectly told it must be a rotator cuff injury (in this incidence), your treatment will most definitely NOT work! Hence the importance of a THOROUGH assessment.


We need to understand what demands your shoulder needs to withstand.

We need to rehab accordingly. There is NO point in ceasing rehab when you are able to move a yellow band in and out a few times… This is the load equivalent to less than 1kg. Are you planning on lifting anything heavier? Are you always going to be standing still and moving your arm in and out slowly? NO!

Rehab needs to mimic what you do in your daily life. Load, speed and range. Of course we don’t start lifting half your body weight overhead, but we gradually work toward matching demand with tolerance.

Finally, we don’t want you to be back in this position again! SO we make sure you understand how this happened and how to stop it from happening again.

Let us help you.

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