Shoulders get tight and achy for a lot of folks. This is for a lot of reasons, including that fact that our shoulders are a place that many of us hold stress. Since our modern world doesn’t ask us to reach very far away from our body, the problem can go largely unnoticed until it is impossible to ignore.
Whether it is reaching overhead, getting on a shirt, or simply scratching our own back…what was annoying but manageable becomes frustrating and problematic.
Now if you were to Google what to do to lessen the stiffness in your shoulders, you would find a lot of advice on different stretches and self massage that aim to loosen the muscles surrounding your shoulder. Plenty of it is misguided, and some of it is downright injurious.
Some of it though may be really effective, and may actually improve your ability to move those shoulders.
But, unless that advice addresses the big picture of why your shoulders became so stiff and limited to begin with, those improvements will last only a short while. The problem will just keep coming back, and often with time those solutions become less and less effective.
So what to do?
Well, if you have tried all the stretches and mobility work out there, and your shoulders are still problematic, then looking at the body beneath them is a good place to start.
You see, addressing just the shoulders, the area where you are experiencing the issue is really missing the big picture. Your shoulders, and all the muscles that make them up really do not have any clue as to what is going on with them. They are just doing what they are told.
And who or what exactly is telling the shoulders what to do?
Well you…but more specifically… your brain. It calls the shots, decides what does when, how much, how often and for how long.
And your brains number one priority is always its own survival. When it comes to how it coordinates any reactive movement to any demanding situation it will gladly wreck an ankle, wrench a knee, jam a hip, throw a back out and let your shoulders have it in our to keep your head intake and preferably upright.
And this is not just seen with how you react to sudden or strenuous demands. It is also seen in your tone, and most especially your anticipatory tone.
At all times your brain is not scanning the environment and making judgements about how it should attune to it, but it is also making judgements about how much it can rely on your body as a whole. It wants to know what it can trust to be there when it must make things happen.
So, in terms of your shoulders…if your brain doesn’t have some reliable legs to fall into, it is going to keep you upright by keeping those shoulders “uptight”.
And then there is that number two priority of the brain… that breathing thing…
After all, those shoulders rest and move on a ribcage, and ribcage is filled with a pair of lungs…
All these things are often best explained with visuals, not just written word. So if you would like some deeper insights to why your shoulders may be so stiff and all the typical stretches and mobility work is not helping, click on the link below to watch a short video on just that.
If you get inspired, and are looking for a way to start working on getting those shoulders a little to a lot more free, then take note that the above video is the first a whole series I have put out there on addressing shoulder mobility. I would recommend just following the order that I present it all, and for your convenience I have linked the second and third videos within the series.
These activities will absolutely test, and perhaps even improve your ability to let those shoulders relax on the body below them. That said, you will not really know unless you try…
Regardless, I hope you find the above helpful, and I hope you’re comfortable, able and well.