Shoulder Pain & Axillary Nerve Loading

Video Examples & Variations

When clients present with difficulty moving their upper limb above their head or out to the side, what are your initial thoughts? More strength? Well, how much MOTOR OUTPUT needs to be generated to lift our arm up? Not too much. What is much more important is how all the peripheral tissues are cooperating with each other to deliver good quality feedback to the nervous system for appropriate motor output. From a neurological perspective, we can’t directly influence the output. But, what we can do is identify where we can deliver better quality sensory input in order to positively influence the output. 

From a clinical perspective, it’s very important to understand what’s not experiencing load well and what is. The individual’s injury history will help paint a clearer picture of this ability, with this framework in mind. For the upper limb, and particularly the shoulder, the load capacity of the rib cage, the sensory systems of the head/neck area, the distal segments of the upper limb, and the neural structures of the neck/upper limb are very important. In this particular video, we are targeting the axillary nerve which innervates the deltoid, and also carries sensory information from the area below the deltoid called the “regimental badge” area. When loading this nerve, start small and gentle. Increase to the point that you feel 3-4/10 level of discomfort and use specific joint movement to drive neural movement.

Check out the videos below for the drills.


Axillary Nerve Loading Variations

2 thoughts on “Shoulder Pain & Axillary Nerve Loading”

  1. Hi
    I have some kind of chronic adhesive capsulitis due to injury. I have sever mobility restrictions with flexion and abducuction and ER . This was really helpful.

    Thank you

    1. I’m guessing if I don’t feel it in the shoulder area and feel it in other areas I’m still gliding the axillary nerve?
      Due to left hand injury I felt in different places left vs right, but not the “deltoid” area as much. Felt better afterwards regardless. 🙂 Thanks!

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