– Stand next to a wall, feet are parallel and comfortably separated
– With one hand, place fingertips on the wall so that your arm is fully extended at shoulder height
– Place other hand on hip
– Cup fingers so that only the tips touch the wall, rotating arm outwards slightly, so that thumb points upwards (not index finger)
– Keep shoulders aligned with your hand, and begin to lift and open chest with the breath, roll collarbones back
We will now bring our focus to the shoulder joint, it has an amazing range of movement, healthy shoulders allow 360 degree circles with movement forward/back and across the body. Shoulders are designed to be mobile, however this mobility can come at a cost of stability, as the main ball and socket joint is quite shallow. We want to ensure we work with the anatomy of the body and the scapula humeral rhythm – when the humerus (top arm bone) starts to abduct (move away from the body), at 30 degrees the scapula has to move with the humerus so the arm can to continue to lift in a healthy way to protect the rotator cuff.
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that wraps like a cuff around the scapula. The supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor all provide external rotation, they are normally weak and underused, and the subscapularis provides internal rotation. We need to find a balance between external and internal rotation, if external rotation is turned off the head of the humerus rolls forwards, if this continually happens the head of the humerus can migrate up and hit up against the suprasinatus tendon over time wearing it away, eventually leading to shoulder impingement. Many daily actions encourage the shoulder to roll forward, for example typing, texting, writing, even certain yoga poses if we are not holding them correctly. An example of a yoga pose where its easy to fall into this bad habit is Chaturanga Dandasana, if we cannot keep the head of the arm bone in line with elbows, ie chest collapses to the ground first, we should perform the pose on the knees first to build more strength in the rotator cuff. We will take a look at this in more detail during the class.
An example of a pose where the supraspinatus contracts is Warrior II: