My husband recently left the tools and went back truck driving- something he hasn’t done full time for 8 years. He came home one day not long into this job and complained that his left shoulder and arm was sore every day- as it was in constant use due to repetitive steering movements.
What was my answer? Well, I thought back to my yoga practice and all that I knew. A wise teacher and mentor of mine once taught me that every movement in yoga is based on ‘mountain pose’ aka Tadasana. The principles of mountain pose are something that I use regularly both in my practice and in daily life.
You see, mountain pose is a great base from which all our daily movements can extend. I often tell my students that when they stand in this pose, their feet are connected to the earth and as their body lengthens upward, space is created in between each vertebra.
Your feet, legs, core and spine ground, connect and lengthen, whilst your arms, shoulders, neck and face all become relaxed. Think of a skeleton hanging from the ceiling, with the spine erect and the arms dangling beside.
And whilst you don’t really want anything dangling, you do need to find the balance between standing strong and tall, but also being relaxed and calm.
So what does that have to do with a sore shoulder?
I am always telling my students to relax their shoulders and neck during class- its probably my top instruction (along with engaging the core muscles!)
I once had a student so tense she couldn’t even relax her shoulders!
So its fair to say tension in the neck and shoulders is a key issue for many, and a key source of pain. We tend to wear the weight of the world on our shoulders and in everyday movements. I am noticing it particularly at the moment as I breastfeed my 4 month old. Other examples are office workers hunched over desks and people hunched over smart phones.
So if this relates to you, make a choice like I do and channel mountain pose…
Tadasana (Mountain) Stand with feet together or hip width apart. Outside edges of the feet ground in to the floor, inner arches draw up. Toes are pressed, yet soft. Draw up from your inner legs in towards the hips. Feel your kneecaps lifting. Feel your low belly lift in and up as you draw upwards from your deep core line. Send your shoulder blades down your back, allow your heart to open and relax your shoulders. Imagine the crown of your head lifting and your chin slightly tucking under. Breathe slow and deep, gazing softly just below eye level.
If you are sitting, simply ground your sit bones instead of your feet. You can see the difference in posture between pics one and two below.
The benefits are amazing, not only do you reduce tension and pain in your neck and shoulders, you also create more space in your lungs and therefore breathe a little easier. There are many other benefits but perhaps the best one is that by letting go of body tension you might just let go of some of those worries- and that’s not such a bad thing
So what about my husband then? Well I gave him the same advice- I told him to sit more upright in his seat, and extend the spine, but also relax his shoulders, face and neck. The result? No more pain. x