5 Tips for Pain – free Shoulders
Our shoulders are our arm’s connection to the body – so the health, strength and flexibility of our shoulders is obviously extremely important! Having an injured shoulder is incredibly frustrating – it’s sometimes only then that you realise how much you use your arms and the importance of the shoulder joint and muscles for those numerous actions.
Here’s a super short list of common shoulder complaints and how yoga can help:
- Tight neck and shoulders – tightness in the upper trapezius and levator scapula muscles that run down the side of the neck is common, as these poor guys often get over used! – Practise relaxing the neck and shoulders in Salabasana pose, strengthening the lower and mid traps; take 10-20 minutes each day gently stretching the sides of the neck – from a seated position relax your head to one side, lift and reach away thought the arm on the opposite side.
- Pain in the front of the shoulder – this can be from numerous causes but in someone who regularly practises vinyasa yoga it is often a result of the head of the humerus dipping too far forward in Chaturanga and irritating the biceps tendon. – Strengthen the serratus anterior muscles that wrap around the ribs, with regularly scapula push-ups (see here) and refine your alignment in Chaturanga with your teacher.
- Rotator cuff tears/ irritation – there are 4 muscles that make up the rotator cuff, so injuries here can manifest in different actions and locations. These muscles have the job of stabilising the head of the humerus in the main shoulder joint, but they need the support of the serratus and rhomboids as well. If there is weakness here, this is often when injuries occur! – Strengthen the serratus anterior with more scapula push-ups and in Plank by pushing the hands down.
- Pain or restriction in Gomukasana (pictured) – in the lower arm can indicate tightness or irritation in the muscle covering the back of the shoulder blade. – Try doing this pose very gently in the shower when you are warm and the muscles are looser. In the top arm restriction can come from the latissimus dorsi or the triceps – try puppy pose to release tension here. Any sharp pain could be an impingement, so get this checked out.
- Hunched shoulders – our day to day lifestyle encourages our shoulders to round forward: typing, driving, running etc… this can have negative implications on our posture and even our breathing and self-confidence long term. – Release tension in pectoralis minor in the chest by laying over a vertical mat roll and relaxing the shoulders either side of it. Strengthen the back of the shoulders in cactus arm pose variations.
All of these things are covered in my classes from time to time, and we will cover all of them in the Shoulder Workshop – see below.
This is a very brief over view of the frequent shoulder issues I encounter, there are many more shoulder complaints, some much more serious than others. If you have shoulder pain I recommend speaking to your yoga teacher, who may be able to offer a private evaluation to discover more about the problem and possible yoga as therapy. As always, if the pain is significant or suddenly worse always consult a doctor.
In this workshop let’s explore a range of poses, exercises and techniques that help to effectively dissolve tension, increase mobility and build strength in the shoulders.
Cornwall Yoga Centre, Truro, Cornwall
Sunday 4th September, 10am – 1pm