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      3 Tips to Improve Your Shoulder Posture

      3 Tips to Improve Your Shoulder Posture

      Shoulder posture is often overlooked until pain hits. We use our shoulders so much without realising. Every time we are at the computer mousing or typing away, every time we reach for our cup of coffee, every time we pick up the kids, the washing, the toys lying around and if you’ve made some time for yourself, every time you do your HIIT workout or yoga routine. We all know by now to relax the shoulders down away from the ears (hopefully without pinning them!) so I’ve focused this blog on a few different tips. Hope you get benefit and please if you have any questions, email me, I love questions!

      Tip 1. Fix shoulder blade alignment

      Did you know that your shoulder blades are not fixed to your rib cage? This is key, because it means it’s all up to the muscles to hold them in place so if you’re not aware of their positioning, they could be doing all sorts of things! Winging (the inner border of the shoulder blade lifts off the rib cage) is one of the most common postural concern of the shoulder blade.

      Correct Winging with this routine…

      To fix winging of the shoulder blades you first need to find awareness of them. To do this try these cues:

      1. Widen your upper back by thinking of stretching your shirt sideways
      2. Imagine you’re trying to blow up balloons that exist under your arm pits without using your chest muscles (this is hard but good!)
      3. Before you start this next one, sit up tall and bring your ribs back over your hips (i.e. no flaring ribs). Next, hold onto the front edge of your seat, gently pull towards yourself and imagine the shoulder blades gluing firmly onto the ribcage.

      No you know what you’re feeling for you can try incorporating your new skill into your workout routine. Try using a band to activate the muscles before you start your workout. Simply use the cues above for 1-3 set of 10 light pulls and 10 light pushes with a band (start with yellow, the lightest band and work your way up as you improve. Bands available at Myothrive). Then keep the cues in mind as you perform your workout. If you lose your awareness you can come back to the basics until you feel it again. Over time your shoulder blade posture will get better and better!

      Tip 2. Fix Rounded Shoulders

      Rounded shoulders can happen in two ways. It can come from the shoulder blades when weak lower trapezius muscles are combined with tight pectoralis minor muscles. We are going to focus on this problem today as the second problem takes a bit more assessment and specific exercises.

      The other way you can get rounded shoulders is from the shoulder joint itself which is a ball and socket joint. The shoulder is the most moveable joint in the body in terms of its available range of motion. It doesn’t have much ligament support and is really reliant on the muscles and tendons to hold everything in position. This means if one of the muscles gets tight, or if ones gets weak then the shoulder can become slightly out of position. The most common movement we see is when the head of the arm (the ball) moves forward in the joint (the socket). This can lead to impingement, bursitis and tendinopathy or in short, pain and inflammation! As I mentioned, this second way of shoulder joint movement takes a little more assessment and personalised exercise prescription, so if you think this might be you, it might be worth booking in an Online Consultation with one of our musculoskeletal professionals here at Myothrive.

      Try this routine…

      To fix rounded shoulders we want to take a 2 pronged approach. One, we want to release the tight muscle at the front (pectoralis minor) and second, we want to strengthen the weak muscle at the back (lower trapezius).

      1. Release pectoralis minor with a spiky ball, lacrosse ball or tennis ball either on the floor or against the wall. Below is a picture of the trigger points you are trying to find. Place the spiky ball against the trigger point then come to the wall or floor to add pressure. Next, move your arm up and down the wall to assist releasing the trigger point. You can simply hold the trigger point if you prefer. 60 seconds is plenty and a max of 3 spots. Pro tip: use a yoga block or book to add distance between yourself and the wall or floor.

      2. Stretch pectoralis minor – see this post for three ways to stretch pectoralis minor.

      3. Strengthen lower trapezius – see this post for ways to strengthen lower trapezius or find us on instagram or facebook for videos and pics (@myothrive)

      Try these cues for during your workout to help shoulder posture:

      1. Think of keeping your collar bones smiling 🙂
      2. Keep the front of your shirt wrinkle free
      3. Wear a tight shirt, if you feel your shirt starting to stretch around the shoulder or shoulder blade adjust until corrected.

      Pro tip: Make sure not to over correct or pull your shoulders back unnaturally, this will work against your efforts. Just let it all happen naturally with time, with these tips you will get there!

      Tip 3. Fix Head Forward Posture

      If you have head forward posture it can place extra stress on the muscles around the shoulders which can lead to poor shoulder posture. This can happen in two ways. Firstly, it can cause the muscles that attach from the neck to the shoulders to work under stretch or work in positions that make their job more difficult. This in turn can create pain and trigger point activity in those muscles but like a cascade effect can also create tension and compensation in other muscles around the shoulders and shoulder blades.

      Secondly, the nerves that come out from the neck down into your shoulders, upper back and arms can be put under stress. When these nerves get stressed they send signals that tell the muscles they are in control of to tighten. This is a protective mechanism because all the nerves feel is danger, they don’t necessarily know what is wrong or where. This over reaction can create a lot more pain than you bargained for.

      Try this exercise…

      This is one of my favourite exercises to help head forward alignment and thus, shoulder posture! Sit or stand in front of a mirror, imagine your chin is sitting on a shelf. Gently slide your chin back off the shelf until you feel the first point of resistance. Do 5-10 repetitions. I like to do this throughout my day by incorporating it with going to the bathroom. Doing small amounts more often will have a quicker effect.

      Once you’ve been doing this for about a week or 2, you can try adding some over pressure to push slightly beyond that first point of resistance. If you have neck pain or suffer from headaches, just stick to the basic or come get some personalised advice from us by booking a Online Consultation. Here’s some more tips to help correct a head forward posture.

      A few more tips…

      1. Seeing is believing! Set up your video camera and watch yourself at your desk, watching TV, on your phone or doing a workout. Sometimes simply seeing what you’re doing incorrect can help you to adjust. Record yourself again doing it correctly so you can associate the new feeling with the correct head posture.
      2. Lift your gaze. Get your screen higher whether it’s your desktop, laptop or iphone, try using books or pillows to prop up the screen to a better height. Same when you are working out, lift your gaze slightly until you feel your head is alignment with your spine. This one tip can help your shoulder posture a lot!
      3. Strenghten your neck muscles. People have generally become a bit scared of working out the neck muscles in fear that it will create neck pain. It’s quite the opposite, weakness is associated with far more pain than strength! A great neck workout is to lie face down and perform your head retractions explained above. Just imagine sliding your chin off the shelf. Start with 1 set of 5 and work your way up to 3 sets of 10 over time. This can be done on hands and knees rather than on your belly if you prefer just try to resist dropping your head to far forward on the relax phase though!

      I hope you enjoyed the tips and that you have found something that can help you to improve your pain and help you thrive. If you love what we do, please come join @myothrive on instagram and facebook, I know you will love our content! We are a team of musculoskeletal professionals with a broad skillset. If you have any questions get in contact. Here’s the link again if you think you need some personalised advice with a Online Consultation 🙂

      Video: shoulder stability to improve push-ups

      Video: shoulder stability to improve push-ups

      With the current push-up challenge being a highlight of people’s time in isolation and having served as a great way to raise some money for charity, I have to admit, we were kind of cringing here at Myothrive. We rarely see a push-up performed well and furthermore we would always pair a push activity with a pull activity to balance out the strength gains. With that in mind we thought this week would be a great time to share this video on shoulder stability. Check it out and follow along to improve your shoulder posture, correctly activate the deep stabilising muscles and get stronger!

      Hopefully you found that helpful. Remember a tailored program with someone correcting for your specific shoulder stability needs may work better for you if you are recovering from pain or a previous injury. We are available online and in the clinic for consultations. Click here to check out our schedule and find a time that suits you best.

      In addition we thought you might also like to check out these other shoulder stability related posts. Get some simple tips on how to improve your posture, how to stretch a tight pec muscle or how to strengthen your lower traps.

      With the stretch based blog below keep in mind that we recommend more dynamic stretches for before a workout and a static stretch once warmed up or after your workout. This is because research has found that holding a stretch before a workout sends the wrong messages for the work that is about to come and can lead to a great risk of injury.

      clinical_exercises

      Improve you push-up posture with these simple tips

      Push-ups are a great exercise when done properly. They strengthen a wide variety of shoulder, arm and core muscles; they can be done anywhere, anytime and they’re easy to adjust sets, reps and difficulty to continue to get maximum benefit. Unfortunately in the gym and the Pilates studio I rarely see a push-up done correctly. […]

      How much exercise should we really be getting?

      How much exercise should we really be getting?

      Wether you enjoy yoga or climbing mountains, we all need exercise!

      Government guidelines for exercise are 150 minutes of moderate cardio per week and 2 strength training sessions per week. These recommendations are based on current research but what does moderate cardio feel like and how hard do the strength sessions have to be?

      150 minutes of moderate cardio per week is most achievable when broken up into 30 minute chunks which ends up being 5 cardio sessions per week. Moderate means a perceived exertion level of 7/10. If you were chatting with a friend you would need to pause every 5 words or so to catch you breath. Need something more technical? I love the 180 formula developed by Dr.Phil Maffetone. This formula is designed to keep you in the aerobic zone to avoid poor posture and gait and to decrease incidence of injury. It’s also been shown to give you greater fitness advances.

      … the take home? what is moderate for me might be different than what is moderate for you.

      Strength training on the other hand is a little more complex. Research tells us to avoid things like osteoporosis and muscle deterioration it’s important to do strength training but do you need a gym membership?

      In short no, you don’t.

      Some simple squats, push ups and pull ups can do the trick. Exercises like these you can do anywhere. They can be altered to make them easier or harder depending on your fitness levels and they can be altered to allow for any injuries or conditions you may have. We can work out a program for home that it right for you and that will keep you motivated.

      clinical_exercises

      The Classic Push Up Exercise can be done in so many different ways, here the medicine ball is designed to be a slight unstable surface to work your muscles in a balancing fashion. We can change to angled push ups, kneeling push ups and supported push ups with a band to make them easier while you learn technique or overcome an injury.

      How to get your personalised program.

      To get your own personalised program book online or fill out our contact form. We look forward in helping you achieve your health and fitness goals!


      Example Program

      • Pelvic curl x 10
      • Bridge x 10
      • Standing crab walk with stretch band x 5 each way
      • Stretch Band straight arm pull x 10
      • Stretch Band straight arm row x 10
      • Bent over row with dumbbells x 10
      • Band assisted pull ups x 10
      • Band assisted push ups with hands wide x 10
      • Band assisted push ups with hands narrow x 10
      • Stretches

      If you want to learn more about how we can help you achieve your health and fitness goals, please contact us and one of our friendly Clinical Myotherapists will be in touch with you!


      Improve you push-up posture with these simple tips

      Improve you push-up posture with these simple tips

      Push-ups are a great exercise when done properly. They strengthen a wide variety of shoulder, arm and core muscles; they can be done anywhere, anytime and they’re easy to adjust sets, reps and difficulty to continue to get maximum benefit. Unfortunately in the gym and the Pilates studio I rarely see a push-up done correctly. Today I’m going to show you some common mistakes people make when attempting push-ups and offer some simple tips to correct them and make them more awesome!

      Shoulder blade awareness to improve your push-up

      Most of you will be aware your shoulder blades are not fixed to your rib cage so if you’ve never paid attention to them they could be doing all sorts of things! Winging and anterior tipping of the scapula’s (shoulder blades) are the most common poor postured positions I see during a push up. Try the following to improve your push-up.

      Winging

      Notice in the picture below that the shoulder blades are sticking up off the rib cage? This is called winging. Try the cues below to correct it but if you are still having trouble you may have a clinically weak serratus anterior muscle or a long thoracic nerve injury and you should see a musculoskeletal practitioner you trust or give us a call here at Waverley Myotherapy Clinic so we can assess you and give you more appropriate exercises or treatment.

      winging

      Try one of the following cues and see which works best for you!

      1. Widen your upper back by thinking of stretching your shirt sideways
      2. Raise the back of your shirt between your shoulder blades towards the ceiling by 1-2 cms
      3. Imagine water squirting up towards your breastbone and now try to lift 1-2 cms so you stay dry!

      Anterior Tipping

      Notice in the first picture below the front of the shoulder is tipping forward? If you could see his shoulder blade you’d also see the lower border lifting off the rib cage. This first picture is what not to do at the bottom of your push-up. The picture on the right is how you should look. This anterior tipping of the shoulder blades is often caused by doing too much too soon. The body will cheat any way it knows how! In the short term you will begin to imbalance the muscles around the shoulder and shoulder blade, in the long term it could lead to a shoulder impingement or a rotator cuff problem. Try the tips below to improve your push-up.

      anttipping

      If the following cues don’t work try reducing the load by doing an angled push up or using a band around your hips suspended above to take some of your body weight and help you!

      1. At the bottom of your push-up
        keep your collar bones smiling
      2. Keep your shirt still through out your push-up
      3. Wear a tight shirt, if you feel your shirt starting to stretch around the shoulder or shoulder blade adjust until corrected.

      Hip positioning awareness to improve your push-up

      So often I see sagging hips dipping towards the floor when people are doing push-ups. I’m not sure if it’s a tiredness thing or if they believe push-ups should be felt all in the arms and shoulders and forget what the rest of the body is doing? I see the complete opposite sometimes too; hips way up in the air, perhaps making it easier or lightening the load on a weak core. Whatever the reason, neither positions are conducive to a well formed push-up. Not only does it look funny but it puts the shoulders and upper back in a poor position, puts extra unnecessary load on the wrists and long term can cause back and hip issues too. Try the following to improve your push-up.

      Saggy Hips

      sagginghips

      Try these cues to correct saggy hips. When you’re in the correct alignement it should feel like no one muscle is taking over; everything is working equally together through the core and glutes.

      1. Lift the waist band of your pants until you are in a straight line.
      2. Using a mirror lift your hips until they line up between your heels and your shoulders in a straight line. Then maintain it throughout the push-up.
      3. Straighten the side seem of your shirt using a mirror beside you.

      High Hips

      highhips

      Try these cues to correct high hips. When you are in the correct alignment it should feel like the muscles around the core and glutes are working equally together which sometimes feels like nothing working at all!

      1. Straighten the side seem of your shirt using a mirror beside you.
      2. Using a mirror or a friends eyes, lower your hips until they line up in between your heels and your shoulders.
      3. Lower your pant pockets towards the floor until your body is in a straight line.

      Head positioning to improve your push-up

      Last but not least is head positioning. Letting your head sag forward gives the illusion of getting closer to the floor because your face is so very close to it but don’t let it fool you, instead of strong sexy chest and arms you will instead be left with a sore neck and tight shoulders. Try the following to improve your push-up.

      Head sagging forward

      If your hips and shoulders aren’t in proper placement or if you’re attempting a push-up angle that’s too difficult for you or doing too many repetitions the head sagging forward is more likely to happen thus the reason I left it until last on the list of things to correct. Try these tips to bring your head back into alignment.

      1. Ask a friend to put some tape on the back of your neck (avoiding your hair) down to head-forwardthe middle of your shoulder blades while standing with your head over your shoulders in the correct alignment. Now when you do a push-up, if you’re head goes forward you will feel the tape stretch and you will know to lift your head back into position.
      2. Get a friend to record you. Sometimes seeing what you’re doing incorrect can help you to adjust. Get them to record you again doing it correctly so you can associate the new feeling with the correct head posture.
      3. Lift your gaze from the floor below to a spot about half a metre or so in front of you and feel your head lift into alignment with the rest of your body.

      So now you have all the tips and tricks to start to improve your push-up! Remember to regularly switch up your reps, sets and difficulty levels to get maximum benefit. This means one a Monday you might do 2 sets of 8 reps in the full push-ups position and then on Thursdays you might do 1 set of 12 reps of push-ups on your knees. You can alter it by wearing a weight vest to make it harder or do them in a decline position, to make it easier you can use a band around your hips suspended above you or do them in a incline position. Once you get stronger you can try single arms, elbows close by the sides, hands closer in and all sorts of things to keep your body guessing! Have fun and remember if any of these suggestions aren’t working please go to a musculoskeletal specialist such as ourselves here at Waverley Myotherapy Clinic to make sure there is not something more serious causing your misalignment.

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