Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Prevention
The thoracic outlet is the space between your collarbone (clavicle) and your first rib. This narrow passageway is crowded with blood vessels, muscles, and nerves. If the shoulder muscles in your chest are not strong enough to hold the collarbone in place, it can slip down and forward, putting pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that lie under it. This causes a variety of symptoms, which together are known as thoracic outlet syndrome. (Glase, 2011)
Prevention of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Avoid carrying heavy bags over your shoulder because this depresses the collarbone and increases pressure on the important structures in the thoracic outlet.
Anterior Chest Stretch- Stand in the corner of a room with arm raised to the side and elbows bent to ninety degrees as if signaling a “good” field goal. Press the elbows against the adjacent walls and lean forward, stretching the anterior structures of the shoulder and chest.
Neck Stretch – Tuck the chin to sternum and touch the ear to the shoulder. Variations can include rotation of the head as well.
Shoulder Girdle Activation- Shrug your shoulders up, back, and then down in a circular motion strengthening the scapular elevators, retractors, and depressors.
Chin Tucks– Keeping the jaw in a neutral position, pull the head posteriorly, strengthening the sternocleidomastoid and the splenius.
These movements shoulder be performed two to three times daily, 10 repetitions each. As a precaution, if you feel pain or increase in symptoms stop the activity and consult with a licensed medical professional before continuing.
These movements are recommended for those who perform repetitive overhead activity for example lifting and throwing. Those undertaking desk jobs may also consider incorporating these movements into their daily life.
Glase, David, 2011. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome- Orthoinfo- AAOS. Accessed October 24, 2016. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00336
Jim Starkey, MS, ATC, CSCS