Earlier this week I wrote about the importance of allowing the shoulder and arms to move freely while walking. Even though our shoulders don’t move into their full ranges of motion during walking, they can still move toward them. Here’s a little story about how moving a little past my walking range of motion helped reset a tight, dropped, rolled forward shoulder.
As a side sleeper, I often feel like many of my shoulder injuries happen in my sleep. A few months ago, I woke up with a tight and sore right shoulder that lingered for a few days. I also noticed that my right shoulder was pulled down and rolled forward. Clearly my rotator cuff was not doing its job while my pecs and other anterior shoulder muscles were working overtime. Common sense would say that I needed to strengthen my rotator cuff to rebalance my shoulder, but at that particular moment those kinds of exercises didn’t feel good. Borrowing a line from one of my teachers and founder of Anatomy in Motion, Gary Ward, I actually needed to travel further into the dysfunction to be able to get out of it.
I was playing around with a classic Yoga Tune Up® pose called Propeller Arms when I felt a massive stretch in the front of my right shoulder as my right arm reached back into extension and internal rotation. As my arm came back to neutral, it felt like my entire shoulder had realigned itself. It was almost as if it was craving that stretch for weeks and now that it was satisfied, was happy to go back to normal.
Since every shoulder is different, here’s a list of awesome Yoga Tune Up® poses and rolling techniques that will reset your shoulders in no time. Hopefully one or all of them will provide you relief!
Start by refreshing and rinsing your shoulders with Sequence 11 in Jill’s book The Roll Model, Shoulder-Rotator Cuff (p. 292-302) – pay special attention to the subscapularis, subclavius, and pectoralis minor. Shoulder Flossing is the check and recheck, so be sure to do that part too. Focus on the external rotation of the humerus as your arm goes overhead and the internal rotation of the humerus as it travels behind you. Check out this awesome version of Shoulder Flossing with a stretchy band:
Finally, set your shoulders free with Propeller arms followed by a walk or hike sans backpack, purse, or phone and feel the new found freedom and power in your stride!