The Fundamental Shoulder Patterns

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Most of us suffer from some stiffness in the neck and shoulders and ‘rotator cuff’ problems are becoming very common. Poor control of the shoulder girdle is always a problem.
Try to get into the habit of doing these simple shoulder girdle movements during the day – particularly when sitting in front of the computer! Here, always watch that you are mindful of sitting correctly and thus help to break the habit of slumping and collapsing down.

Sit with a ‘neutral spine’ (see Exercise #7) so that you feel your weight is taken on the front of your sit bones and feet. ‘Float your head’ & ensure that the back of your neck is soft and long.

EX: To achieve the correct start position: place your hands on your hips (thumbs pointing behind) and widen your elbows. You should feel the muscles engage over your upper back and between your shoulder blades and that your nipples slightly widen and lift. Watch that you don’t tense up and hold your breath during these movements – they should be soft and free
Maintaining the above cues, now do the following series of movements;

  1. Allow the points of the shoulders to lift up and forward towards your ears. Your breast bone and nipples will drop and your upper back will round. Most of us have far too much of this movement, however going into it helps you get a better idea of doing the important next movement.
  2. Now bring the top part of your breast bone forward while at the same time bringing the front point of the shoulders back and slightly down so as to widen your collar bones and your shoulder blades come closer and drop – still keeping your elbows wide. You want to feel that the muscles between your shoulder blades are working a lot – not those over your lower back ribs. To start, this is often an action rather than a large movement, where you sense that your nipples slightly lift and widen further and your neck further lengthens and softens. Repeat these first two movements back and forth trying to get better at doing the second movement (Fig. 1).
  3. Keeping a sense of the elbows and nipples reaching wide, now bring the point of one shoulder down and back (as in 2), while bringing the other up and forward (as in 1). Think of it as though your shoulders and nipples are doing a ‘see saw’ movement – for as much as one goes up, can you bring the other down to the same extent? Note also that as you lift one shoulder blade, your ribs under that armpit ‘fan open’. Keep alternating the movement noting whether you can do it equally to each side. Let you head and neck move with the action but try remain ‘up tall’ (Fig. 2).
  4. From the start position, now bring one shoulder blade back so that it moves closer to the spine. The front point of the shoulder moves back and the collar bone widens. Ensure that the elbow stays wide. Make sure you feel the work behind between your shoulder blades and that you are not working ‘3 stories too low’ and wringing your waist. The nipple on that side should widen and lift. Turn your head to look back also. Repeat a number of times each side and alternate the movement back and forth (Fig.3)
Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

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