I have spoken before about the left latissimus dorsi (which is attached to your left arm) being connected to the right glute max (which is connected to your right leg) via the thoracolumbar fascia. I have also said that if the glute max isn't working correctly then this may put added pressure on the opposite lat dorsi with possible shoulder pain. So the initial reaction would be to get the glute max working correctly, right?
BUT….it's not always as simple as that.
Now there is a principle referred to as reciprocal inhibition. According to the dictionary "Reciprocal inhibition describes the process of muscles on one side of a joint relaxing to accommodate contraction on the other side of that joint."
In a nutshell this means that if one side contracts then the other side has to relax. Reciprocal Inhibition also works in the sense that if one muscle is overly contracting all the time then the opposing muscle will gradually become weaker because it's being inhibited all the time.
And so in the case above. If there is a problem with the right shoulder then we check to see if the left glute is working correctly. If the left glute is inhibited then maybe that's due to the opposing muscles, which are the hip flexors (the muscles at the front of your thighs). So then we would need to look at releasing the hip flexors in order to allow the glutes to work correctly, and therefore taking off some of the pressure from the shoulder.
But then what if the hip flexors don't need relaxing but actually need strengthening? Maybe they are not working correctly which means that by the definition of reciprocal inhibition, the Glutes will work more so. And maybe the Glutes have been working so bloody hard that they are just overworked and so have taken a holiday? If this is the case then releasing the hip flexors (and stretching the hip flexors) would just put more pressure on the Glutes and make things worse.
Oh and if this balance between the flexors and extensors (Glutes) are out of sync then you might as well add knee issues to the story too.
So when you have a shoulder problem or any other problem for that matter….then you can see why it's not as simple as saying do X, Y and Z. We need to figure out what's going on in the first place.
Does that make sense?
You may want to reread that a few times ;-)
Image: Complete Anatomy App