The shoulder often ends up on the receiving end of what’s happening elsewhere in the body (and mind), in particular the chest, upper and middle back. Too many repetitive movements, such as using a computer mouse, or a sport such as swimming or tennis, or even too many downward dogs in yoga, can lead to over use, and if continued over a long period, shoulder pain.

In addition, stress can lead to a build up of shoulder tension, which creates sore and tight muscles, especially in the upper back area between the shoulder blades

To address this, we need to both stretch and strengthen the muscles that bind the shoulder girdle to the spine and the ribcage, strengthening what’s weak while releasing chronic muscular tension.

A lot of our yoga sequence this week, which was aimed at the shoulders, was based around working with the chest and upper back, and the middle back instead of the shoulder joint itself. We lifted and stretched out from the chest by raising the arms,  but the movement was always initiated in the center of the body working from the central core outwards.

If you try them at home, don’t forget to use the breath, using the inhale and exhale to guide you.  Think about moving forward from the chest on the inhale, opening up and widing the collar bones, as you bring the shoulder blades together engaging the muscles in the upper back.

Here is a reminder of some of our sequence:

  1. Sitting crossed legged, cross the arms over the chest in a V shape, and swing the arms out to the sides as you inhale.

  2. In child, start with your hands resting on your lower back. Come up to kneeling widening out your arms like wings as you come up.

  3. From standing, bend half way down, and come up to standing with ‘cactus arms’.

  4. Lying on your front, raise the chest as in cobra, lifting the arms in a cactus shape.