Have you ever noticed your shoulders inching up towards your ears and felt the tension it creates in your whole boy? This unconscious habit can make you feel upset even when there is nothing to be upset about. Here is a TED Talk video about how body language shapes who you are. Here is a TED Talk video about how body language shapes who you are.
When my shoulders are tight or raised it usually means I’ve shortened the distance between my head and sacrum. This leads to compression along the spine as well as the shoulders taking over and trying to carry me around. Since the relationship of the head to the spine is called ‘primary control’ in Alexander terms, you know if this relationship is off then the entire structure is going to have trouble. Thus starting with bringing the head/spine in proper relationship is the first step in bringing your shoulders to a relaxed position.
Another unconscious habit that can contribute to shoulder problems is lifting and pulling up and in at the shoulder joint. The shoulder joint is made up of the clavicle and shoulder blade coming together to form a round socket. The arm bone, the humerus, fits into this socket and too often we think of the head of the humerus as part of the joint. This thinking may be what causes us to pull up and in with the arm, creating more tension in our shoulders. Learning to recognize this habit is a step towards reducing the stress and tension we are putting on this joint. Learning to let the elbows drop will give more space to the joint. This action will also reduce wear and tear on the shoulder.
Rowing is a popular sport with a great opportunity to either learn how use your shoulders properly, or really abuse them and end up with rounded shoulders and poor posture. Most rowers pull in at the shoulder joint and round their torso; they forget or don’t know about the importance of lengthening up along the front as well as the back of the spine while using the oars. And ideally letting the elbows drop instead of pulling the head of the humerus into the shoulder joint. This is also helpful when you are at the gym using a rowing or weight lifting machine. Exercising your body with good alignment and use will make a huge difference in your posture, as well as give you a better sense of awareness of when you are going out of alignment.
One of my favorite exercises for releasing the stress on the shoulder joint is an egoscue exercise. Here is the link to it. If your shoulders are not limber enough for this you can lie in conscious constructive rest position and slowly open your arms wide initiating the movement from the finger tips not the joint. Learning to think the movement by connecting your thought to your bones and muscles without forcing allows ease and comfort throughout your entire being.
All the Best,