Maybe You Just Need a Wiggle

Tim Johnson H1c0q8n7vdc Unsplash

Maybe You Just Need a Wiggle

Tom Morrison

One of most surprising things I deal with is the fact that people WANT a diagnosis. They want to be told that they have Scapular Dyskinesis, that their Scapulothoracic Glenohumeral Rhythm is presenting as abnormal and that they need 16 weeks of diaphragmatic breathing correctives, pectoralis minor trigger point release and serratus anterior activation….

That’s just one example thrown at unexplainable shoulder pain but…

I’ll look at that same person, see that they can’t make circles with their shoulders on command…

And if it was me? I just want to be told I suck at making circles, that I need to work on it, and I’ll be fine because…


That’s what works.

I’ve worked with people who’ve had issues for years! Actual YEARS No exaggeration, and have attachments to a crazy diagnosis yet (if we stick with a Scapular Dyskinesis diagnosis) they’ve never done a simple upper back stretch or tried to make some circles with their shoulders.

Instead they’re doing these things crazy specific things like rolling foam rollers up walls with their forearms and wrapping mini bands around their wrists, none of which are improving their overall shoulder blade movement.

There is No Magic Fix

Off the back of diagnosis and overanalysing issues, syndromes or disorders comes the fear of moving certain ways and the belief that there’s some magical perfect position that, if achieved, it will fix all of their shoulder woes.

But scratch your back, reach up to get something out of a cupboard, turn your steering wheel, there are so many random movements in life that trying to control everything is just going to lead to obsession, failure, and ultimately more pain.

Joints move all day every day, and they’re supposed to.

Yes, when you have a joint or muscular pain sometimes knowledge is power, but sometimes ignorance is bliss. Diagnosis often bring blame. And from my own experience, a big contributor to people ending up feeling totally wrecked is overcomplicating or isolating movement, blaming one muscle, or one motion, and becoming disheartened when that one thing just doesn’t seem to be fixable. Then you’ve “tried everything” to no avail.

But trying to use one exercise, in one direction to fix a joint that can move in multiple directions at multiple angles… I mean, it’s madness when you say it out loud!

But There MUST Be Something Wrong

A diagnosis become part of our identity. We want answers, we want a reason, we want justification for our pain that is external and not our fault – I have a syndrome/disorder/etc. seems like a much easier pill to swallow than you’ve just not moved right for 20 years and now you must do a lot of work to fix that.

That’s not only too simple of an answer that seems dismissive of the pain you’re feeling… but it’s also embarrassing. The realisation that it’s actually your own fault, and you’re in charge of fixing you.. that you’re not actually special.

Have A Wiggle

Every week we help people with issues they’ve had for a long time, people who say they’ve tried EVERYTHING.

Within days of working with us their pains are already improving. Moving how your body is meant to move, how your joints are meant to work isn’t always easy, but it is pretty simple. More often than not, nowadays one of my first questions to someone presenting long term pain is just:

“Have you tried wiggling it?”

 To which the response is pretty much, “Erm.. No??”

Exploring what range of motion you currently have, comparing it to the other side/a normal ROM, deep breathing, moving it around a bit in it’s comfortable range, then pushing more towards the end range, have another wiggle there, go in and out of the position (don’t forget to check you’re not holding your breath), checking where exactly does the pain start, are you tensing up when you feel you’re getting close, what is the pain stopping you from doing, is there some way to move around it, have another wiggle, ok what else can I do or not do right now?

That takes a couple of minutes and is super simple. To be honest once you start it’s almost intuitive. Having a wiggle is the epitome of being curious and non-judgmental about your movement and your body. “What’s sore right now? Cool ok, what happens if I try this… “

You will learn so much about your pain, your body, your tightness, your weaknesses, more often than not just getting the fear of the pain under control through this exploration will straight away have a massive impact of how you feel.

Diagnosis Have Their Place

Overall, I’m not proclaiming diagnosis aren’t valid at all or have no meaning, there are many instances where discovering a syndrome or disorder will massively help you create a good treatment path. But I would hazard a guess that most of us don’t really need to ever hear them.

Sharp nippy pains or if something is not actually functioning, you need a professional

If something is just icky, achy, or not moving as well as it should, you might just need a good wiggle without letting information overload force you to overlook the simple stuff.

Always remember!
You’re probably fine.



[Feature Photo by Tim Johnson on Unsplash]

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