Yoga class shutdown. Home practice 2.

Hoping that some comments re Tip 1 may reach me.  The “kitchen chair move” is actually recommended for shoulder impingement, a common cause of shoulder pain. This affects the rotator cuff tendon, the rubbery band of tissue that connects the muscles around the shoulder to the top of the arm.

Shoulder diagram, 103 kb

The space in the shoulder (subacromial space) where the rotator cuff tendon, muscles and bursa pass through is very narrow.  This space is made even smaller when you raise your arm – the tendon rubbing or catching on nearby tissue and bone causes discomfort.

The kitchen chair move may help to ease this discomfort, as may leaning onto  the seat of the chair and allowing the other arm to swing like a pendulum.  I link the Codman Pendulum exercises in the post Shoulders -bearing up in yoga practice which also features the above illustration and some explanation as to how some yoga practice can be unhelpful if you have shoulder problems.

When shoulders are tense/sore we naturally “guard” against the discomfort.   Dr Chris Jenner , a consultant in pain management describes the response to pain:

…. Muscles are tensed (and the breath held) in fear of pain. This brings more tension and pain -muscles can build up toxins while tensed then don’t get released. ……Neck and Back Pain: A self-help guide (How to Self-Help Guide)

Gentle exercises help to increase blood flow,  to warm and relax these muscles. Most students find the side lying movements that mobilize the thoracic spine and shoulder girdle very useful for shoulder issues.  In our sensory approach we develop an  awareness of motor connections from the hand through the elbow to the shoulder and the upper spine.  We notice how freely movement travels through these structures and in doing so, become sensitive to the whole movement:Image result for images for side lying shoulder exercisesWith thanks to   See ** TIPS below

With as much relaxation as we can – Lying on right side (above) head , neck, top shoulder (left) , ribs hips, thigh, leg and foot, trust the support of the floor and move the left shoulder forward and back leading with the fingers.   Fingers of the left hand initially just to the inside of the right elbow – back and forth a few times .  Try to keep the left arm long and relaxed so that the movement includes the left shoulder blade. and upper spine.  As you draw the left hand back across the body and increase the rotation, the movement involves the shoulder, ribs and hips.  The left elbow leads the movement towards the floor behind.  You may be able to rest your left arm on the floor – I can’t…too tight!!

**TIP: Practice with a “heavy head” (a good thing in this case) – this will reduce tension in the neck, face and shoulder.

** TIP – practice the above with both legs bent and knees drawn in towards the body to avoid any extension in the back.  You can reduce pulls in the shoulder or back by keeping the feet together and allowing the top knee to lift away from the bottom knee (still on the floor) as you rotate and draw the left hand across the body to the floor behind.

Shoulder Sweeps – when you move the joint through rotation , can produce a “pull” or “snag” or “catch”; all of which could indicate impingment to some degree – may be very small.  Have a look at this video:

shoulder sweep

**Disclaimer – I would encourage those with tightness to release that top knee (as decribed above) if the rotation is pulling the lumbar spine into extension but the video serves to illustrate the movement of the shoulder joint, so many thanks to Active Orthopedics.

**TIP – if you experience a pull or snag it may behelpful to consider:

  • Do I push through it?
  • Do I stop and pause, back off a little and then proceed?
  • Do I back off, start the movement again and repeat to the point of discomfort, then go back to the beginning and start again?

Sometimes in yoga we do a little too much and sometimes too little.  Sometimes we benefit from working a little harder and sometimes less.  We need to understand effort that is healthy (are balanced enough to do a bit more?) and tension that is unhelpful.

Sounds SO corny but that is why yoga, being a reflective engagement with ourselves and our body, can provide us with some insight into how we approach life – maybe – some of the time.

Please use the comments box to let me know what you think. Some may have queries about placing the head/discomfort in the shoulder on the floor etc.  If you don’t understand the moves, contact me.

Stay safe.



One thought on “Yoga class shutdown. Home practice 2.

  1. Two more thoughts – alot of us are spending alot of time on the computer – causing shoulder pain – I try to take regular breaks and also clasping the hands behind the back and stretching out the upper chest – you taught me that one Liz.
    Also one’s mental health in this stressfull time is important I use the Headspace app to meditate each morning – they have just introduced a ‘weathering the storm’ section which has lots of great things in it – give it a go – you can’t say you dont have time. thanks again Liz for the thoughtful inspiration Fiona


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