I’ve had shoulder pain and misalignment on my left shoulder for so long it’s become part of me. Recently I had a major breakthrough and I’m slowly trying to integrate this new found movement and lack of irritation. Shoulders are extremely complex structures and due to the use of our arms the shoulder joint has more mobility than the other joints in our body. Long term this means we can develop more problems with them if we’re not careful.

The shoulders connect to the shoulder blades and then to the musculature and structure of the upper back and cervical spine. One completely affects the other and working on your shoulder joint can affect the shoulder blade, thoracic spine etc. Alignment is all.

Downward facing dog allows you to explore all of those structures but 1/2 downward dog allows more movement through the arms, more range of motion exploration and takes less strength to hold. This particular pose allows you to open the rib cage, pull the shoulder blades back and lets you experience some freedom from frozen shut and stuck on the rib cage shoulder blades.

Thai massage twist

I spend large amounts of time performing bodywork no one has ever had before. The longer I work, the more I see it and the more I realize I’m honoring traditions others don’t even know exist. Thai massage may be new to Austin, Texas but it’s 2500 years old. When I perform seated massage people say, “I didn’t know you could massage someone who was sitting.” I then realize, well, I’m doing things differently and from a different cultural context.

Shoulder blades are often stuck on the torso. They become frozen in place, limiting mobility and movement and along with it your angel wings are clipped. Open the shoulder blades, allow them to fall back opening the heart and you can fly away my friends.

This simple twist helps open the scapulae, sounds professional doesn’t it? I even used the plural. 😛 You also get movement to the spine itself to allow flow, undulation and deeper spiraling movement.

Avoid twisting anyone with herniated discs or spine surgeries. It’s not a good idea and you can hurt someone if you’re being forceful. Go slow, communicate with the person you’re working on and help someone feel good today. Opening movement in the spine makes someone feel free, open and receptive. It also goes a long way to helping with recurring back pain and tight muscles along the spine.

Shoulder blades

When I teach a yoga class I’m often telling students to roll their shoulder blades back and down. This postural change makes for a relaxed, heart open, improved posture that goes a long way to removing the upper back pain most seem to encounter. Shoulders rolled forward like Smeagol is horrible. In Austin I see far too many computer warriors suffering from back pain that’s easily treatable.

The back and down shoulder blade posture isn’t forced or contrived. Everyone and their spine/posture exists within a set of boundaries and parameters. There isn’t an aggression to the rolled back and down posture of the shoulder blades but most people, when they move this direction, will get a kinesthetic sense of what feels right when they go through the range of motion the shoulder blades allow.

This simple Thai massage twist is an easy way to introduce the range of motion that the shoulder blade and spine will allow. This opens the chest, retracts the shoulder blade and allows the spine to rotate open on one side. This reminder can go a long way to helping introduce better posture by showing the client what feels good. Shoulder blades back and down feels free. Fly away, open.

If someone feels uncomfortable feel free to move away from the lower back so the twist isn’t as strong in that area. If you perform this on someone make sure to get solid feedback. If there is any spine injury or former surgeries make sure to communicate and go slow, even someone with spinal fusion finds this freeing but make sure the movement isn’t sharp or jerky. Slow and smooth feels best and when in doubt, ask the person you’re working on how it feels.

Shoulder blades, back and me.