It does seem that the shoulders bear more than their share of burdens. And yet…..they persevere through lifting, carrying, sports, and all other manner of abuse we put them through. The shoulders are really a miracle of engineering. The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body. This is great, because it allows us to move our hands freely, thus providing access to all sorts of tasks and activities. It’s also not so great, because this joint is often the victim of injury. To understand the reasons for this, and ways to keep your shoulders healthy and happy, we must first look at the anatomy of this versatile joint.
The shoulder joint is made up of the humerus (upper arm bone), clavical (collar bone), and scapula (shoulder blade). The humerus fits into a cavity called the glenoid fossa, which is on the outside edge of the scapula. Stability of the shoulder joint is mostly a function of four muscles called the rotator cuff muscles. These muscles originate on the scapula and insert on the top of the humerus. They provide movement and support to the shoulder. When these muscles become weak or inflamed, then pain, reduced range of motion, and instability can occur at the shoulder joint. This can lead to increased risk of injury. In addition to the rotator cuff muscles, there are also muscles knows as scapular stabilizers. These muscles reside in the upper back and attach to the scapula. They help with both movement and stability of the scapula. Scapular movement allows the the arm to achieve greater range of motion. It’s important to keep the scapular stabilizers and the rotator cuff muscles strong for optimum wellness of the shoulders and arms.
If you attend a gym, there are many machines that can help you strengthen these muscles. But if the gym isn’t your scene, you can still achieve good results on your own at home. I also offer private “Functional Yoga Coaching” to address individual wellness goals and a weekly yoga class called “Yoga for Healing” (sign up here).
Try the following exercises and yoga postures to help strengthen your shoulder muscles:
- Alternating from Plank (Khumbhakasana) to Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
- Half Locust (Salabhasana) with I, Y, and T arm movements
- Side Plank (Vasisthasana)
- Bridge (Setu Bandhasana) with hands clasped underneath
- Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
- Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Maysendrasana)
- Arm Movements during standing postures, such as Warrior 1 & 2 (Virabhadrasana) can increase range of motion
Stay tuned for my next video which will feature a sequence incorporating these postures. Click here to sign up for my newsletter and get this, and other tips, delivered to your inbox every week.