Hello again! Goodness each month comes around so soon don’t you think? So here we are with your shoulders under scrutiny. An insidious but annoyingly grumbly part of the body they can be too. But as with other areas of your body, knowing how you use them and to understand what stresses and strains them, enables you to start preventative measures or to help put things right.
Do you insist on well behaved shoulders at all times? It doesn’t matter whether you are pushing or pulling a door or a hoover, ‘wheel-barrowing’ or lifting a bag of compost from Ettiepots nursery, or your shopping, chairs, briefcases…you get the picture. Can I hear the sweet sound of you all crying out, “and where do our clenched buttocks fit into all this?” How far you have come! Yes indeed, your buttocks (along with your tummy muscles) should be an integral part of all these actions to stabilise your pelvis and core creating “scaffolding” to the rest of your body.
So what are the warning signs of suspicious shoulders?
1. Seeing a photo of yourself and noting how stooped you have become
2. Swopping to use your other arm to lift/push or pull something
3. Using two hands instead of the usual one to generate greater strength
4. Avoiding lying on one side in bed because it has become less comfortable.
My lovely assistants, stick man one and stick man two will demonstrate a couple of tasters to see if your shoulders are as strong or as flexible as you think they are.
Stick man one: wall press-ups
Place palms on wall, finger tips at shoulder height Start with feet 2 feet from wall, move them in/out as needed to test arm strength Keep shoulders dropped away from ears Bottom squeezed, ribs raised, feel tum tighten Slowly bend elbows
Try one arm. Is there a difference in strength, left to right? Have a go with your feet further away from the wall.
Stick man two: arm stretches
Lie on your back with arms out to sides, knees bent Relax shoulders towards your hips Stretch arms apart as far possible (keep your shoulders towards your hips) Keep ribs down, don’t arch your back off the floor
How tight do your shoulders feel? Is one tighter than the other?
Both of these are useful exercises to improve and maintain your strength and flexibility. Remember to move slowly and gently and never push into pain.
So, do your shoulders need a touch of discipline?
Look side on in a mirror. Stand with your weight over the arches of your feet, soft knees, squeeze your bottom while raising your breast bone up until your tummy tightens, shoulders dropped away from your ears and stretched backwards keeping them directly over your hips. Relax your head and neck. If you feel really stiff between your shoulder blades or tight at the front of your shoulders or if it is a real effort to hold and maintain this position, clearly you are a long way from home. Fear not, to bring you home I have a map!!
Stiffness between your shoulder blades or around your shoulders will make stretching and strengthening your shoulders much harder. The more you stretch (as above), the freer you will become. In turn the muscles that hold you will become stronger so less effort is required to hold this posture. Small steps little and often will result in big returns long term. Maintain this
posture for 30 seconds at a time but do it multiple times throughout each day. (Gently rotating your spine and side bending as described in last month’s blog will also help.)
Take note! If your shoulders are in their happy place they positively influence the way your whole arm moves including the effect on your elbows and wrists. So, working on your shoulders is a starting point for elbow or wrist problems too. Keep the faith and take the time, over time, to find that happy place.
Next month – your knees! Do you have signs that suggest you need to be doing something to prevent pain occurring or do you already have a problem? Let’s face it, knee pain is just plain annoying so see what you can learn.
As always, if you have any questions regarding any of the above or regarding some other health issue, please feel free to contact me either by email or through the contact form on my website. Alternatively give me a call. It’s always good to talk!