An unhappy shoulder area can not only significantly impact your yoga practice, but your day to day life. I personally have dealt with a number of issues in this area over the years and it is something I see a fair amount in my students as well.
This mini series complete with tips can help keep your shoulders happy and safe. Beginning with a quick overview of the shoulder area, part one of three gives suggestions on building strength.
Your Shoulder Joint
The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, like the hip joint. Where the hip joint is inherently more stable, designed to move us through space, the shoulder joint is more geared towards dexterity – essentially allowing us to move stuff around. Our shoulder relies much more on its connecting muscles for function. So for a good range of motion, you will want to keep all the supporting muscles strong and balanced.
For the anatomy nerds amongst you… the deep muscles that tie the humerus (upper arm bone) to your shoulder blade (scapulae) and keep your humerus in place are: 1) subscapularis, 2) supraspinatus, 3) Infraspinatus, and 4) teres minor. This group is also referred to as your rotator cuff muscles.
The middle and top layer is made up of: 1) pectoralis minor, 2) levator scapulae, 3) rhomboids, 4) pectoralis major, 5) deltoids, 6) trapezius, 7) serratus.
These are some of the main players, ultimately the more all your various muscles chip in, the better, as it means one doesn’t have to pull the weight for the others which may lead to imbalance and sometimes to issues further down the line.
Do you need to know all the muscles? No, but think about the direction that your arm moves (facilitated by the shoulder joint) and how you can strengthen muscles in each direction through push and pull actions.
In yoga we do a fair amount of pushing away – plank, arm balances, Downward Dog, inversions. So I wanted to provide some examples of pull exercises that work the muscles a bit differently and can be used complimentary to your yoga practice.
You can either spend just 5 minutes before class using the bands available in the studio, or they are also easily available and don’t tend to break the bank! Have fun exploring!
Look out for next months blog post, where part two of our mini-series will focus on mobilising and stretching and later, part three will look at shoulders in some very common yoga asanas (poses).
Join Ninas yoga class here at the Mary Ann Weeks Aveda Guildford studio, for her fascinating anatomy insights to aid your yoga practice and overall health and wellbeing.