BLOG, INFORMATION AND RESOURCES
Resources, discussions and information produced by Charlotte Lattin - Level 5 Sports, Remedial and Holistic Massage and Soft Tissue Therapist, Movement Coach, Psychologist, Runner, Swimmer, Yoga practitioner, Lover of Outdoors, Mum to 4 children, Owner of a crazy dog (and a couple of other dogs) and fascinated by all things to do with how our bodies and minds work...
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So what have abs got to do with shoulders I hear you ask..? I've been trying out a new method of shoulder injury rehabilitation that involves more ab work (no, not crunches and sit-ups) and hanging around than you might expect. It might be worth reading on as there are many people (maybe you) who don't have good range of movement in the shoulder and are at risk of injury..the key is to work on posture and movement rather than stopping moving (which is tempting).
I have had a slight shoulder issue (rotator cuff strain) that I have been taking a new approach to treating - I have had massage and also am carrying out self-massage techniques to the area (read on for more details) but have also been working on alignment, strength training and building a solid core (it needs work but it's getting stronger so it can be done even for someone pushing forty with 4 children so no excuses ladies - or gentlemen!)
So, the key to functional and injury free movement is a stable base (and happy muscles - massage is part of my rehab too). Your shoulder and pelvis both require a solid foundation to move freely from without moving too far out of proper alignment - that's where your abs come in. Does this mean hundreds of crunches? NO!!! Crunches can actually lead to injury if not carried out properly (pulling on your neck or arching your back for example). Want to have a go? Try these exercises instead:
1. Plank - an old one but a good one - several variations are possible and you can add complexity by adding leg movements
2. Leg raises - single alternating or double leg raises work the lower abs
3. Superman - these work the other side of your core (the muscles running along your back are also an integral part of core strength)
4. Dead bugs - sounds weird but good and effective
What about the shoulder?? Well, for effective shoulder movement you need to have your shoulder in correct alignment - this might mean you need some massage to loosen tight muscles and help to train the shoulder into the right place and gain range of motion around the joint. If you can't raise your shoulder above your head this might be important before you do more. You can also try stretches and using a ball around the shoulder to self-massage (see my stretches pages for some good stretch ideas or ask me!)
What next? A great way to get correct movement and add strength in the shoulder is to practise Y, T, W moves whilst lying down on the floor...Keeping your core engaged raise your arms above your head making a Y shape (yes, all you YMCA dancers...fancy dress optional) and hold this for a second or two, then move arms out to the side parallel to each other - that's your T position, hold that for a second or two then move onto the W - arms bent elbows in line with the body and hands out next to your shoulders. Repeat 10 times (that should warm you up!). That might be enough for you but if not try hanging out...
Hanging - from a bar or (my personal favourite) rings allows you to stretch out the shoulder area and lats and move the shoulder carefully whilst applying some downward force (i.e. this is a GREAT stretch). This helps to set your shoulder back into the right alignment (sitting hunched over that desk tends to draw your shoulders forward and cause decreased range of movement...
You can then try some more stretches and swing about on that bar/rings...not got any rings? Come down to UTC Oxfordshire Sport and have a go there (if you're local) or head to your nearest park/playground. If you want advice on using these for shoulder strength and mobility ask for more information.
I'll try to keep you posted with the ab strength and work towards some impressive calisthenics moves if I can (new years goals coming out there...was meant to keep them hush hush in case I fail!)