Tips for Tight Shoulders from SOMA Expert, Marianna

Tips for Tight Shoulders from SOMA Expert, Marianna

What problems can a student experience with tight shoulders?

Difficulties with main basic movements of the shoulder girdle (shoulder joint): Anterior Tilt, Elevation, Depression, Abductions, Adduction, Rotation. These movements help the arm to elevate properly in front of our body, to the side and so forth. When we experience poor movement in the shoulder we then overwork muscles in the neck resulting in pain.
We also overcompensate the back muscles resulting in a rounded spine shape with shoulders rotated forward, have poor breathing and difficulties opening up the chest and expanding the lungs properly.

What causes tight shoulders?

It can be from old injuries or due to lifestyle if we work long hours in the office sitting or after an emotional trauma that led us to close ourselves off. This commonly leads to rounded shoulders and people unconsciously closing the chest to protect themselves.
An increase in anxiety and depression often stems from our inability to take in enough oxygen due to this tightness as our lungs  are unable to expand enough.
I find it interesting what happens physically in the body with tight shoulders.
When we overwork the shoulders we overextend and overwork the romboid muscles and tighten the pectoral muscles. This causes pain and discomfort in the back, creates bad posture and compression of the vertebrae.

If not corrected, what problems can happen?

  • Kyphosis – hunchback
  • Stiff neck leading to migraines and difficulties to sleep
  • Bad blood circulation
  • Increase of anxiety and more prone to depression
  • Bad posture and back pain

During Water, the circular movements of the spine and arms challenge the shoulder girdle's natural movements creating space in the chest and spine.

Marianna, SOMA Coach

What are your own experiences with tight shoulders and how have you corrected it? how do you feel differently now?

I remember my first yoga class 7 years ago and being told by the teacher, “never look down in life”!  I tried to look up and I couldn’t.  At the age of 19, I moved to London worked long office hours. I was going through some sad times and I guess my body showed my feelings. And my lifestyle of sitting on a chair at a computer for 10 hours a day didn’t help either.
During that yoga class, that teacher’s comment made me realise how bad my posture was and automatically my view of life. I tried to look up and adjust my posture to a more upright position but my muscles where so weak that with my stiff neck and shoulders my back couldn’t cope.  My lower back became damaged by trapping my sciatica nerve leaving me in and out of bed for 6 months.
At that point I felt really self conscious of my body so I started attending Hot Yoga Flow for two nights a week with the hope it could get better.
At first I wasn’t able to lift my arms properly or touch my toes in a fold but I didn’t care. I took it slowly. Sometimes I had to stop and take child’s pose for a rest.  Without realising it, this even helped my body relax to the point that my back felt better each time.
I slowly took back control of my body and posture but my neck and shoulders were still tight. So I created a routine that I still use every morning: 1) child’s pose after gently assisting myself up from bed and 2) the back stretch I show in the video.
After a few months, I felt like a new person. The weight of the world finally was off my shoulders.  My posture and confidence improved and my panic attacks and anxiety started to subside.
Now after 7 years of working on it, I gained flexibility but still need to give extra attention to shoulders and neck.

What posture are you showing?

Supported fish pose, it’s a Yin variation of the pose and allows us to relax and sink into the the stretch using the breathe as a tool to relax. It allows the shoulders and neck to become heavy so that they stretch themselves naturally without straining or forcing the stretch.

Which classes/moves in SOMA classes help tight shoulders?

Elementals Earth and Water are really good for shoulders and neck issues.
In Earth, we relax the neck and strengthen the rhomboids. The back exercises also strengthen muscles to hold the shoulder blades in place easier.
During Water, the circular movements of the spine and arms challenge the shoulder girdle’s natural movements creating space in the chest and spine. It helps improve the circulation of the blood in the spine and helps with mobility of the spine, shoulders and arms.