Tight shoulders? Blame it on the sugar?

Dr. Samelak is excited to have Amber Horn, NTP, LMT as a guest blogger today! Amber tackles tough topics with her clients like how blood sugar can impact your posture. I feel like I want to shout that out- Did you even know that your tight shoulders and hunched posture could be, in part, blood sugar related?

Amber and I recently geeked out about this topic and thus, a blog was born!

Can my tight shoulders be tight because of my blood sugar?

shallow focus photography of woman in black shirt
Photo by Ezekixl Akinnewu on Pexels.com

Yes, it’s true! Let’s talk logistics.

Excess sugar consumption puts a strain on your whole body, but most notably your pancreas. One of the many functions of the pancreas is to release insulin when blood sugar rises. Blood sugar rises from stress, eating sugar, processed carbohydrates, and even fruit. Insulin is a hormone that acts as a key to unlock the cell “door” to allow glucose (sugar) into the cell and out of the bloodstream. Eating many meals and a diet high in sugar and processed carbs creates the need for constant insulin production. The pancreas then gets tired AND the cells stop listening when insulin attempts to usher sugar into the cell (insulin resistance). This happens over time and will be represented by low energy (especially after meals), difficulty losing weight, high fasting glucose and/or HA1C, among other symptoms. Since our bodies are essentially a fancy electrical system, this imbalance starts diminishing connections throughout the body.

One of these connections is muscle to organ and organ to muscle. These occur in common pairs throughout the body. Due to this connection, when an organ is in stress, it weakens the corresponding muscle. This allows the opposing muscle to become chronically tight, which creates adverse muscle and structure patterns. (Think poor posture or feeling tight no matter how much you stretch) The latissimus dorsi muscle corresponds to the pancreas and when the pancreas is stressed it weakens the lats, allowing the trapezius (brings shoulders to ears) to tighten without opposition. You’ll go broke spending money on bodywork if don’t address the root cause, which is a pooped out pancreas from excessive sugar intake. Who knew?!

Below are some action items to help balance blood sugar so your bodywork is worthwhile AND sustainable.

Action Items:


  • Keep sugar intake to 25g a day maximum.


Recent World Health Organization recommendations are for 25 grams or less of added sugar per day. Just for reference, a can of Pepsi has 33 grams of sugar and a lot of popular granola bars have 7-10 grams of sugar! If you’re not paying attention, you can meet your maximum by lunch. This leads into our next item.


  • Check your labels


food healthy vegetables potatoes
Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

Food manufacturers like to hide added sugar in anything and everything. Educate yourself on all the names that sugar is listed under on a label. It’s in everything from ketchup and almond milk to granola bars and spaghetti sauce. A great question to ask yourself while shopping is “Does this food have ingredients or is it ingredients?” Fill your cart with ingredients for the most part and you will be on your way to keeping your blood sugar balanced. This often involves shopping the perimeter of the grocery store instead of the aisles.


  • Always pair carbohydrates with protein and fat.


Even if it’s not added sugar, carbohydrates can still spike blood sugar. Start thinking of snacks as mini meals and set yourself up with a carbohydrate, protein, and fat. This will help prevent sugar highs and dips and creates a food template and blood sugar that is in balance.


By helping to keep your blood sugar regulated, you can support your organ systems and your overall health. Please remember that this blog is not intended to be medical advice. It is important to consult with your medical doctor, chiropractor, nutritionist/dietician, etc prior to making major dietary changes to be sure that your body can handle the changes.

About the Author:
fullsizeoutput_18Amber is a professional trifecta, seeing clients as a functional nutritionist, massage therapist, and personal trainer. Her passion is figuring out the cause of imbalances that her clients come in with. After decreasing her own depression and regulating hypoglycemia through food choices and targeted supplements, her focus is helping others find optimal mood balance and decrease symptoms related to diabetes and other blood sugar imbalances. Amber lives in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle with her husband, Steve and adorable pittie, Lucy. In her spare time she enjoys hiking and reading, and is a die-hard Gryffindor.

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