Sunday, May 24, 2015

Shoulder Savers

Summer is just around the corner, and with it an increase of outdoor activity. Whether it's gardening, climbing, kayaking, or just swimming at the neighborhood pool; it's likely that at some point you will feel some strain in your shoulders.  Opening up the shoulders and and keeping them flexible can save you from serious neck and shoulder injuries down the road.  Here's some simple shoulder savers that will keep you moving the whole summer long.

Shoulder Circles: Bring the fingertips to the shoulders and slowly shrug them up, then back, and down.  Focus breathing slowly in and out as you continue the circular motion for 5-10 breaths.  Then, reverse directions and continue for another 5-10 breaths.

Cat/Cow: Place the hands under the shoulders, and knees under hips.  Take a deep inhale and draw the shoulder blades together on the back as you lift the tailbone and pull the chest forward slightly.  Exhale and press deeply into the floor, rounding the back and bringing the chin toward the chest.  Continue for 5-10 breaths, integrating movement with breath.

Thread the Needle: From Cat/Cow, press deeply into your right hand and inhale as you extend the left arm out to the side and up towards the sky.  Exhale and slide the left hand underneath the right arm, dropping your left shoulder to or toward the floor.  You can also place a blanket or block under the shoulder if it doesn't reach the floor. Let the weight of your body open up your shoulder as you walk the right fingertips forward.  Stay here for 5-10 breaths and then repeat on the other side.

             Eagle Arms: Come to a comfortable seat.  Ground down through 
             the tailbone and extend through the crown of the head.  With a big 
             inhalation, extend the arms wide.  On the exhale, bring your right 
             elbow on top of your left, intertwining the arms or placing the 
             hands on the shoulders.  Draw your elbows up about shoulder
             height, and with an exhale, draw them in towards your belly.  
             Inhale to center, and open the arms wide, repeating on other side.

Be sure to listen to your body and don't push yourself beyond your limit with any stretch.  And enjoy summer!

~Kristin Henningsen MS, CH, RYT


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