Shoulder Girdle: A Delicate Balance

January 8, 2012 at 11:35 am 16 comments

As the understanding of bio-mechanics progresses our actions and cues must follow. I find it pretty strange that while we as Pilates teachers are learning more and more everyday about the human body, a lot of the cues of stabilization seem to remain in the Dark Age of old-fashioned thought. It is no longer acceptable to teach the actions of stabilization from sheer intuition or from the actions of dance (primarily ballet in the Pilates world) we’ve got to understand how a joint works, what dynamic stabilization of that joint entails, what muscles do what, when and how and then cue those realities.

In my last blog post “Doing Wrong To Get To Right?”, I made a minor mention about the proper way to cue stabilization in the shoulder girdle. Several teachers from around the world have asked me to help and explain which inspired today’s blog post. Please remember that today’s article is not all that there is to say about this, but is intended to pique your interest in studying and learning more. Of course, I go into far more detail my bio-mechanical workshops. This is a good start:

Phrases like “roll your shoulders lightly up and back” or “open your collarbones and breathe between your shoulder blades” are ways to cue the scapulae that adhere to the reality of how your scapulae function most effectively in most circumstances rather than what I had originally learned and I gather that many of you have learned and teach of “anchor your shoulder blades down”, “pull your wings down” or “reach your shoulders away from your ears”. Taking care that the actions we do and teach our clients are really the most positive actions for the greatest functionality of a joint is a big part of what we do as Pilates teachers. Beyond the individual movements of exercises, we “cue” the actions to stabilize joints claiming that these proper actions can be taken into all areas of life beyond the Pilates studio. So…we’d best make sure that we are correct.

Truly well-meaning instructors taught you to teach compression rather than dynamic stability. Compression is absolutely one form of stabilization and strength, but it limits mobility and can de remarkable destructive to joints and all that run through and around them. Though he was far more lengthened than other exercise people of his day, Mr. Pilates taught more compression than dynamic stability in joints, too. He really did want to straighten the spine, create an abdomen people could stand on and make you squeeze your seat until you had dimples in the sides as well as anchor your shoulder blades down. These were the modern actions of stability in Mr. Pilates’ time. Perhaps great if you’re an old-time boxer who is going to be pummeled to the end of his breath. And this very much was the aesthetic of ballet dancers of the time…tucked pelvis for a straight spine (which jams the femoral head into the acetabulum/front of the socket), tight compressed abdomen of lacing the front base of the ribs to the hip points and/or closing the ribs, squeezed buttocks to hide the sides of your thighs to make your look less feminine and more like Balanchine’s waif ideal and then press your shoulder blades away from your ears to make your neck appear longer and more the ballet ideal.

So…here we are with The Shoulder Girdle. Your shoulder girdle is comprised of bones, ligaments, muscles, nerves and blood vessels. The bones that are the girdle are the clavicles (collarbones) and scapulae (shoulder blades). Off the scapulae coming around the lateral side of the girdle is the acromiom process which connects to the clavicle as the acromioclavicular joint. The clavicle connects to the sternum at a small joint called the sternoclavicular joint. Now, the scapulae rest on the thorax/ribcage and form a “functional joint” (meaning that the connection acts sort of like a joint, but it’s not bone to bone) the scapulothoracic joint.

Bones of the Shoulder Girdle

What’s the primary function of the shoulder girdle? To help support and move the humerus to help support and move whatever is in the hand. That’s it and remarkable important, I think you’d agree! The scapulae are moving supportive platforms that connect the arm to the ribcage/torso. Is lateral fossa is called the genius fossa. It’s the socket of the shoulder joint or the glenohumeral joint. The ball is the humoral head/top of the upper arm bone. The clavicle acts as a strut keeping the humerus (upper arm bone) away from the torso (thank you, clavicle). Which basically means that the shoulder girdle is all about the hand…supporting whatever action we ask the hand to do whether it be to push, pull, hold, throw, carry…you see? The range of motion of the shoulder is tremendous! The complexity and openness allows you to move your arm nearly anywhere you want it to go…and if one can’t do it, the other one usually can!

Now, I’m not saying that your arm alone in that ball and socket joint has such a great range of motion. That’s where the entire complex of your shoulder girdle comes into play with something called scapulohumeral rhythm. You see, if your humerus moves, your scapulae are always prepared to move, too. In fact, should you send your brain the signal that you’re going to lift your
arm above shoulder height, your humerus starts to move, primarily by way of the deltoids, but to avoid your humoral head from crashing into the acromial arch at 90 degrees from the torso (which is essential to keeping your ball in socket), your rotator cuff muscles on your scapulae (including some or all of supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis) rotates the numeral head to get up another 30 degrees. Then to go higher  than 120 degrees without smacking into the acromial arch, again, the scapulae rotates and lifts up (by means of trapezius and serratus anterior). Yes! When you lift your arm up, your scapulae must lift up too! I know…this is contrary to what you’ve learned. You’ve learned that you must anchor your shoulder blades down when you lift your arm up. But if you try to do that you are actually hindering the very important combination of actions that protect your shoulder joint from damaging compression of humeral head against acromial archway. That compression would of course pit bone against bone, but what else is there? What goes through that archway?

The superior/upper) portion of the shoulder girdle is an important “thruway” of sorts. Blood vessels and nerves that feed nutrients and information to the arms and hands pass through the shoulder girdle at one point or another. When shoulder blades are pressed down, that side part called the acromiom presses down, too, crushing the blood vessels and nerves into the thorax/ribcage. When that happens, of course,there is decreased blood flow and neurological impulses. Pain and dysfunction a become prevalent.

In addition, a lot of people who already have pain in their shoulder joints have compression because muscles create protective patterns of contraction. We’ve got to use our knowledge of how the body works to allow for greater blood flow and neurological impulse flow so the joint can heal and function properly.

Compression and/or anchoring = Bad. So what is good? The main body of your scapular need to float on the posterior surface/back of the ribcage, the acromiom float on the superior surface/top of the ribcage allowing dynamic stability of the glenohumeral/shoulder joint to have greatest support and mobility while allowing healthy space in the functional joint of the scapulothoracic joint and. The glenohumeral joint.

What about the clavicles? What do they do? They react to movements of the scapulae. They need to be allowed to equally float and respond as needed as a ballast of sorts and that strut for the humerus…keep that humerus away from the ribcage.

Now, this all means that nothing stays still in this complicated girdle. Correct. Constant reassessment to maintain support and space. A constant regeneration of actions:
-Roll your shoulder blades lightly up and back. Breathe between your shoulder blades.
-Lightly open your collarbones and breathe between your shoulder blades.

Let shoulder blades float like a buoy on the water rather than anchor to the ocean floor. They ride the ribcage like a surfer on a wave. Then the actual ball and socket is most effective and free. Strong and flexible.

It will feel weird to you at first. And you do practice on yourself a lot before you try cueing your clients. Practice by just laying on your back; knees up an feet flat on the mat. Reach your arms straight up to the ceiling, parallel to each other, shoulder width apart. Draw your arm bones and shoulder blades off the mat, reaching higher to the ceiling (scapular protraction). Now, take a moment to make a strong, but supple abdominal connection all the way into your upper abdominals that connect into your lower ribs and breathe into your back ribs. With your ribcage supply stable, lightly draw your shoulder blades against the mat (retraction to neutral) and allow your humeral head to settle into the glenoid fossa (ball sit into socket). Your shoulder blades will be light on the mat, but strong in your back. Take care not to poke or force your shoulder blades back. You’ll know that you are forcing when you see that your arms are opening wider out to the side and when you feel that your ribcage and mid-thoracic spine are no longer stable. We’re looking for light on the mat, strong on your back with a stable ribcage, spine and pelvis (stable torso)…dynamic stability. The shoulder girdle must move independently of the thorax.

Then you work to apply this action of stability with challenges like modified versions of breathing, eventually arm springs, chest expansion, etc., etc. apply it to the wall, too.

This is where you start…a beginning.

What muscles do the work here?  There is a delicate balance of muscles to keep the shoulder blade on the back and arm in the shoulder.  Shoulder Blade on the Back:  The middle Trapezius and Rhomboids work in equal opposition to the Serratus Anterior to maintain this dynamic stability.  Of course, Levator Scapulae, Upper Trapezius, Lower Trapezius need to balance each other, too…but it’s the active balance of neither protraction nor retraction that happens primarily between mid-trapezius and rhomboids against serratus anterior.  Arm in the Shoulder:  The Rotator Cuff muscles keep the humeral head into the glenoid fossa (ball into socket).  Those muscles:  Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor (those three are on the posterior/back of the Shoulder Blade) and Subscapularis (on the anterior/front of the Shoulder Blade).  They quite literally suck the ball into the socket against the labrum (cushion-like ligament-like structure that lines the rim of the glenoid fossa).  They also rotate the humerus…as their collective name states.

Posterior Rotator Cuff Muscles

Now, do you ever “pull your shoulder blades down”? When arms are overhead or even just above shoulder-level, pushing upwards, one might lightly draw the shoulder blades down in equal opposition to the action and force upwards. Equally and opposite and, again only when force of arms are upwards and only if necessary. It’s not usually necessary especially when you’ve been working the dynamic stability as I’ve shared with you here.  When would you consider this in our common exercises?
Reformer:  Long Stretch Series.  Equal and opposite effort, only.  Snake/Twist.  Again…equal and opposite.  Other exercises like those where the upper arm bone goes above the level of the shoulder girdle and there is pressure pushing/reaching against something.
Cadillac:  Push Through (when reaching the bar either up to the top of the cadillac or towards the feet), Teaser Push Through (also when extending the arms either to the top of the Cadillac when up in the Teaser or to the back wall when laying down on the mat).  You’ll find other exercise…but it is equal and opposite work against what is being pushed/reached and only when the upper arm bone is above the level of the shoulders.

So…an overview:

The Shoulder Girdle is made up of the scapulae (with the acromium coming around the side) and clavicles.  They balance on the ribcage with a little true joint at the sternum and the functional joint of the scapulae on the ribcage.

The Shoulder Joint is really the ball and socket.  It has a tremendous amount of rotation and motion because it is such a shallow ball and socket and because of scapulohumeral rhythm…the movement of the scapulae to move the humerus more!

Shoulder blades and collarbones (scapulae and clavicles) are meant to balance or bob on the thorax (torso) rather than anchor.  Anchoring creates compression and lack of movement as well as tremendous dysfunction.  Our aim in Pilates is to have greater function with dynamic stability rather than compression.

Cue your clients to roll their shoulders lightly up and back and to breathe between their shoulder blades.  Lightly open your collar bones and breath between your shoulder blades.

Avoid anchoring shoulder blades or pulling wings down.  Depression of the scapulae is just that…depressing.  At least the lack of strength, ultimate ailments and tremendous misunderstanding will ultimately be depressing all around.

Now, this is just a beginning.  There is much more to discuss about the shoulder girdle and it’s functions and what does what:  ligaments, nerves, progression of exercises and so very much more!  Please, oh, please study more and ask me many questions (put comments here in the blog so others can benefit from your questions…there are no silly questions.  I am certain of that.).  I present a shoulder girdle workshop all around the world…join me or I’ll come to you…once you understand and experience the true actions of your body, it’s so much easier to teach and do!

2012 Workshops are in the midst of being set and scheduled, but it looks like we can count on these to begin with:

See full details below for:
Jan. 29 – Mamaroneck, NY
Feb. 3&4 – Los Angeles, CA
Feb. 26 – Rhinebeck, NY
March 17, 18, 19, 20 – London, ENGLAND
March 24&25 – Geneva, SWITZERLAND
July 14&15 – San Francisco, CA
September – Sao Paolo, BRAZIL
September 15 – Boston, MA

(and more to follow!)

January 29, 2012 at Fiore Pilates – Mamaroneck, NY (Westchester…just north of NYC) 

Archival Mat and Standing Exercises – 11:30a-2:30p – $120
3PMA CECs

There are many more versions of Mr. Pilates’ exercises than we see today.  Variations, modification, combinations of multiple exercises in one!  Fascinating, challenging and all the rest!  These versions should not just live in the memories of those of us who had access to them years ago.  They ought to be living, breathing exercises for those who need the modification or challenge!  Experience this material, then teach it so we never lose track of these great exercises!

Mysterious Aches and Pains – 2:45p-4:45p – $80
2PMA CECs

Even your normal, healthy clients still have weird aches and pains.  Some that come and go and some that are chronic.  In this vibrant workshop, we’ll discover the roots of and tips for managing those odd issues like clicking hips, crunchy knees, hyper-extended elbows and knees, pain in wrists, S.I. joint trouble, sciatica, frozen shoulder, migraine headaches, vertigo and so many more!  Bring with you your questions about normal physical issues that are seeming mysteries.  It’s time you got the answers you seek!  Let’s answer them all!

For registration and more information, contact Fiore Pilates at info@FiorePilatesOnLine.com or call 914-381-3201

February 3 & 4 – SoCal/Los Angeles, CA

Friday, February 3
Private and Semi-Private Sessions in Los Angeles

E-mail me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop to schedule.  If you have friends you specifically want to do a semi with…let’s set that up!
$110/Private, $65/duet, $50/trio and beyond

Saturday, February 4
Workshops in Long Beach at Axis Pilates and Gyrotonic (Karen Washburn’s studio!)
Beyond The Everyday:  Archival Exercises on the Apparatus
– 10a-1p – $120
3PMA CECs

Joseph Pilates created somewhere between 500-600 exercises.  You know some of the repertoire…it’s time to learn more.  In this workshop, you will learn rarely seen and immediately useful exercises on multiple apparatus (Mat, Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Standing Arm Springs) all created by Joseph Pilates.  You’ll leave feeling confident in the purpose and technique of teach exercise, have time to do exercises, practice teaching and ask questions.  You’ll walk away with your own special archive of exercises for your strong intermediate clients…and yourself!

Mysterious Aches and Pains – 2p-4p – $80
2PMA CECs

Even your normal, healthy clients still have weird aches and pains.  Some that come and go and some that are chronic.  In this vibrant workshop, we’ll discover the roots of and tips for managing those odd issues like clicking hips, crunchy knees, hyper-extended elbows and knees, pain in wrists, S.I. joint trouble, sciatica, frozen shoulder, migraine headaches, vertigo and so many more!  Bring with you your questions about normal physical issues that are seeming mysteries.  It’s time you got the answers you seek!  Let’s answer them all!

To register for the workshops or session, contact me (Shari) at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

February 26 – Rhinebeck, NY

Bio-Mechanics:  How Our Bodies Really Work and How to Cue That Reality – 6hrs
6PMA CECs

While your physical intuition is an important asset in teaching Pilates, intuition is not enough. To sincerely take care of your clients, you must know the truth of how the body works.  Cue the reality, not the myths or mistakes. Being a confident teacher depends on it…demands it.  We’ll work to understand the bio-mechanics surrounding the pelvis, spine, shoulder girdle and how to apply this information to your teaching.  Knowing and understanding is the only way.

Contact Elaine Ewing at elaine@RhinebeckPilates.com or go to www.RhinebeckPilates.com for more information

March 17-20 at Pi Studios – London, ENGLAND

March 17th Saturday

9am to 9.45 am – Mat Workout

10am to 1pm – Great Groups and Sensational Semis

1pm to 2pm- LUNCH

2pm to 5pm – The Shoulder Girdle

March 18th Sunday

9am to 10am – Joseph Pilates. Retrospective and Perspective.

10am to 12pm – Teaching Tower Classes.

12pm to 1pm – LUNCH

1pm to 5pm – Flow and Rhythm and Opposition making the session a workout at any level.

Monday 19th semi private or private workout day

10am 11am 12pm 1pm

Tuesday 20th semi private or private workout day

10am 11am 12pm 1pm

SP & PRIVATES PRICING

Semi private £40

Private £90

Please let us know and we will book you in accordingly.

 

WORKSHOP PRICING

Mat Workout £15

Great Groups and Sensational Semis £150

The Shoulder Girdle £150

Joseph Pilates. Retrospective and Perspective. £50

Teaching Tower Classes £100

Flow and Rhythm and Opposition making the session a workout at any level £200

FULL DAY DISCOUNTS – IF BOUGHT BEFORE FEB 19TH 2012

Saturday 17th only: £280 

Sunday 18th only: £325 

All Workshops and Mat Class £550.

WORKSHOPS

 

Great Groups and Sensational Semi’s – 3 hours

3PMA CECs

Group classes and Semi-Privates are a reality in modern day Pilates, but were you ever really trained on how to make them successful? Shari will teach you the guidelines, tools and techniques to easily teach flowing, fun and fantastic Groups and Semi-Privates Sessions on all Apparatus. Learn to mix up what you are teaching to add variety, and also how to work with multiple levels of clients at one time so they can grow individually. Be ready to learn and practice these skills in this dynamic workshop.

The Shoulder Girdle – 3 hours

3PMA CECs

The Shoulder Girdle is a complex system. When I first started teaching, all I knew was “pull your wings down” and “crack a walnut”. The more I study biomechanics, the more I know there is very little down and no cracking. It’s a delicate balance of bone, muscles, ligaments and tendons… and constant reassessing. Dynamic stability is what we are looking for. Let’s spend time studying where we’re going with the shoulder girdle and how to get there in Pilates. We’ll take time with the anatomy and biomechanics, Pilates exercises, common aliments and all of your questions. Take a moment to review what you already know before the workshop… then we can grow from there.

Joseph Pilates. Retrospective and Perspective – 1 hour

This is one of the most important workshops of the weekend.

1PMA CEC

If you call yourself a Pilates teacher then it is essential you know and can talk about Mr. Pilates. The more you know about Pilates the man  where he came from, and what he was looking to achieve, the more inspired you will be, and can inspire your clients!

Teaching the Tower Classes  – 2 hours

2PMA CECs

“Use what you’ve learned in Sat.’s Great Groups and Serious Semis” to deepen the hands-on skills and creative projects for Sundays Teaching Tower Class”. In your Tower classes, there are people of all levels, many who have never seen or been on the Tower in your class and some who are pretty advanced, as well. How do you create a class that takes care of them all? Let’s take the time to learn how to create a really safe, strong and challenging classes on the Tower. The are special guidelines and progressions you can follow and great ways to make a fantastic class for everyone… including you as a teacher! Shake up your classes, learn new and exciting variations and progressions to challenge both physically and mentally clients of all levels.

Flow, Rhythm and Oppostion – Making the session a workout at any level – 4 hours

4PMA CECs

This is the ‘giant’ in workshop learning. Flow is much more than moving quickly through a list of exercises. Let’s figure out what flow is and how to create it within each move, reception and exercise. Flow has a lot to do with how you think of the workout and how you use your voice to set rhythms, give accents and emphasize certain points of each exercise. It will change your teaching for the better. Opposition; the key to stability. Every exercise must continually lengthen and deepen…..nothing is held tightly or compressed, learn how to cue opposition into the Pilates work out and into your clients bodies.

LOCATION

Pi Studio Battersea, 6 Cotwold Mews, Battersea Square, SW11 3HB

Please contact Marsha for booking and payment on: – Telephone: 020 7585 1114 Email: mail@pistudiobattersea.co.uk

March 24 & 25 in Geneva, SWITZERLAND

Saturday, March 24

Advanced Mat Class 10a-10:50a

Wonderful Wunda Chair – 3 hrs
3PMA CECs

The Wunda Chair is often misunderstood and feared.  With the new influx of wunda chair classes, truly understanding the chair, its history, exercises and uses is even more important than ever.  It’s one of the most versatile and exciting pieces of apparatus in the studio.  In this workshop, you’ll learn how to use it as part of or as a complete session always keeping movement flowing with purpose.

Creative Spine Corrector – 3hrs
3PMA CECs

In this workshop, you’ll learn how to transform your Spine Corrector into one of the most useful piece of apparatus in your studio!  You will learn how to do and teach an entire flowing workout/session on the Spine Corrector as well as how to use just a handful of exercises to enhance a full workout.  With over 40 exercises, there’s a lot to work on and discover.  You will also learn how to organize the exercises, how to position the clients on the apparatus and where to be to spot and cue the exercises as the teacher.  It’s surprising how special and important you’ll find Spine Corrector.

Sunday, March 25

Bio-Mechanics:  How Our Bodies Really Work and How to Cue That Reality – 3hrs
3PMA CECs

While your physical intuition is an important asset in teaching Pilates, intuition is not enough. To sincerely take care of your clients, you must know the truth of how the body works.  Cue the reality, not the myths or mistakes. Being a confident teacher depends on it…demands it.  We’ll work to understand the bio-mechanics surrounding the pelvis, spine, shoulder girdle and how to apply this information to your teaching.  Knowing and understanding is the only way.

Beyond The Everyday:  Archival Exercises on the Apparatus – 3hrs
3PMA CECs 

Joseph Pilates created somewhere between 500-600 exercises.  You know some of the repertoire…it’s time to learn more.  In this workshop, you will learn rarely seen and immediately useful exercises on multiple apparatus (Mat, Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Standing Arm Springs) all created by Joseph Pilates.  You’ll leave feeling confident in the purpose and technique of teach exercise, have time to do exercises, practice teaching and ask questions.  You’ll walk away with your own special archive of exercises for your strong intermediate clients…and yourself!

Contact Melania McLaughlin at Linea Pilates at melania.mclaughlin@gmail.com for more information and registration www.lineapilates.net 

July 13-15 in San Francisco, CA – Pilates on Tour –

Saturday, July 14 –
Morning Mat Class – 1hr
Beyond The Everyday: Archival Apparatus on the Apparatus – 3hrs
3PMA CECs

Joseph Pilates created somewhere between 500-600 exercises.  You know some of the repertoire…it’s time to learn more.  In this workshop, you will learn rarely seen and immediately useful exercises on multiple apparatus (Mat, Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Standing Arm Springs) all created by Joseph Pilates.  You’ll leave feeling confident in the purpose and technique of teach exercise, have time to do exercises, practice teaching and ask questions.  You’ll walk away with your own special archive of exercises for your strong intermediate clients…and yourself!

Sunday, July 15 –
Morning Mat Class – 1 hr
Archival Mat and Standing Exercises  – 3hrs
3PMA CECs

There are many more versions of Mr. Pilates’ exercises than we see today.  Variations, modification, combinations of multiple exercises in one!  Fascinating, challenging and all the rest!  These versions should not just live in the memories of those of us who had access to them years ago.  They ought to be living, breathing exercises for those who need the modification or challenge!  Experience this material, then teach it so we never lose track of these great exercises!

Click HERE for more information

September in Sao Paolo, BRAZIL – Much information to come.

September 14-16 in Boston, MA – Pilates on Tour –

Saturday, September 15
Morning Mat Class – 1hr
Beyond The Everyday:  Archival Exercises on the Apparatus – 3hrs –
3PMA CECs

Joseph Pilates created somewhere between 500-600 exercises.  You know some of the repertoire…it’s time to learn more.  In this workshop, you will learn rarely seen and immediately useful exercises on multiple apparatus (Mat, Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Standing Arm Springs) all created by Joseph Pilates.  You’ll leave feeling confident in the purpose and technique of teach exercise, have time to do exercises, practice teaching and ask questions.  You’ll walk away with your own special archive of exercises for your strong intermediate clients…and yourself!

Archival Mat and Standing Exercises – 3hrs
3PMA CECs

There are many more versions of Mr. Pilates’ exercises than we see today.  Variations, modification, combinations of multiple exercises in one!  Fascinating, challenging and all the rest!  These versions should not just live in the memories of those of us who had access to them years ago.  They ought to be living, breathing exercises for those who need the modification or challenge!  Experience this material, then teach it so we never lose track of these great exercises!

Click HERE for more information

And there will be many more workshops where we can work together…I’ll keep you informed as they all become solidified!  If you’d like to be included on my newsletter to get monthly information, subscribe to this blog and/or e-mail me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

***Please share this information and tell your Pilates teacher friends and colleagues to come on over for workouts and workshops that will get your Pilates-teaching-juices flowing.***
Again, these are not your typical workshops where you might get just one useful tidbit.  You will leave full of new teaching skills and ways to look at Mr. Pilates work.  You will have a new perspective on Pilates that will enliven your teaching and your own workouts!
Shall we set up something at your studio or the one you work at?  Clearly, I travel to teach and enjoy it!  Read below for more info!

Workshops in Your Studio:
If you are interested in my teaching workshops and/or semi-private sessions for your teachers at your studio, please contact me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com  I’ll be thrilled to put together a program with you for your needs!

While my vocabulary is classical Pilates, the principles behind my teaching and workshops apply to every style of Pilates.

We have countless topics to play with within technique workshops of classical Pilates and teaching skills workshop that apply to all!

*******
Sessions:
If you’re in NYC and want a Pilates session e-mail me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com
And I’m Westchester, NY on Thursdays.

Workshops:
If you’d like a workshop and/or semi-privates at your studio, e-mail me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com  I travel all over the world and would be thrilled to come to you!

Consultation:
If you’d like to set up a meeting on the phone or in person to ask questions about teaching or building/maintaining your business, e-mail me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

Enjoy!- Shari

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Doing Wrong To Get To Right? Join Me: Workshops Near You! NY, LA, London, Geneva, San Francisco, Sao Paolo, Boston…

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bonnie  |  January 8, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Shari – love this post. Especially your comment “…let the shoulder blades float like a buoy…”. Long ago I stopped asking my clients to draw their shoulders “down” but to think about relaxing more and breathing into their backs, and also not drawing the blades together but keeping the space open. It’s still hard to get across though, so thank you for your words of wisdom! And the shoulder anatomy lesson didn’t hurt either! 😉

    Reply
    • 2. theverticalworkshop  |  January 8, 2012 at 8:57 pm

      Thank you, Bonnie! It’s good to hear from you!
      I hope you’re having a great start to the new year!!!
      – Shari

      Reply
  • 3. Lynda Lippin  |  January 9, 2012 at 9:08 am

    I sometimes use the analogy of a capulet – our shoulder girdle should lightly sit upon the ribs like a freely moving capulet, not something so heavy that it shoves us down.

    Lesley Powell taught me the “let your collar bones roll like logs in the river” cue, which I love too! Also “fluffy armpits” to avoid shoving down.

    Thanks Shari!

    Reply
    • 4. theverticalworkshop  |  January 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      Lovely images!
      See you soon!
      – Shari

      Reply
  • 5. Katy Bromberg (@KillerPilates)  |  January 9, 2012 at 11:09 am

    How do you recommend cueing side-lying shoulder positions? I struggle to find good imagery to keep the neck to ear area open without saying ‘shoulders away from your ears’ when students are concentrating on their Clams.

    Reply
  • 6. Jodi Brinkman  |  January 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Hi Shari!

    I do a lot of shoulder relaxation work with people lying on their foam rollers because I like the tactile cues the foam roller offers. I use a cue of having their scapulas hugging the foam rollers, so that they can just feel where their shoulders are supposed to be on a day to day basis. And we do a lot of protraction and retraction from that place, because we can feel the upper abdominals as we try to balance on a clearly unstable surface. Is this right? I’m not going to lie, I was a little confused by this blog, and I REALLY want to understand the shoulder girdle more, because it is becoming clearer and clearer to me that it causes so much more harm when not used properly, especially with my tennis players who need that serving arm/shoulder to be working properly. Help?

    Happy New Year Shari!
    Jodi

    Reply
  • […] Shoulder Girdle:  A Delicate Balance […]

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  • 8. Lynn Pringle  |  April 17, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    All the information you have presented about the shoulder girdle and other areas of the body are EXACTLY what we learn right from the very beginning of our comprehensive training at Body Harmonics Pilates, Toronto, Ontario,Canada. Understanding the anatomy and biomechanics of the joints, muscles and tendons is a must for anyone working with bodies. Then you move on to the nervous system so you understand that connection to the spine and the make really good connections for your clients.

    Reply
    • 9. theverticalworkshop  |  April 18, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      Hello, Lynn,

      Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts.

      I’m thrilled to know that Body Harmonics sets up its trainees with a solid foundation of how the human body works! That’s wonderful! Thank you for letting me know! I think I must reach out to them!

      All the very best,
      – Shari

      Reply
  • 10. theverticalworkshop  |  June 11, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Thank you, Maureen. I have always had trouble with lie and lay. Though I keep a reminder with me at all times…I still struggle with it. And while I am a skilled and well-trained copy editor, it’s always a challenge to proof your own work. I appreciate your assistance and will make the appropriate adjustments!

    Reply
  • […] Shoulder Girdle: A Delicate Balance (theverticalworkshop.wordpress.com) Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

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  • 12. The Vertical Workshop's Pilates Teacher Blog  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    […] Shoulder Girdle:  A Delicate Balance […]

    Reply
  • 14. Elena C.  |  March 4, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Dear Shari

    first of all – wow! i just came across your blog yesterday and it is really interesting – actually a bit too interesting as i spent half the night reading:)

    Some of your articles make great sense for me right away, like the butt-squeezing post, but i don`t understand some of what you wrote about the shoulder girdle. Maybe you would like to help me out, this would be great!

    My first question is about the scapular rotation while lifting arms: When you lift the arm above 90 degrees, the scapula starts rotating and the glenoid fossa begins tho rise, this is compeletely clear. But big parts of the scapula move downward, actually the whole inner part of each scapula and especially the inner upper angle. Am i correct on this? So whenever i move my arms above 90, i do always create some oopstion: the more the hand/arm lifts up, the more i let the scapulae (parts of) sink down or sometimes even pull down. I never have any feeling of compression doing this, it feels like opening up the neck, the shoulders and helping the elevation of the arm, and i do actually do mostly teach like this. I don`t use static verbs like anchoring ( i teach in german anyway:), but i do use soft dynamic verbs like sinking or moving downward, or pulling when the client pulls the shoulders to his ears whenever the arms elvate. I feel like concentrating on the downward action helps engaging the right muscles for the right movements, even if anatomically it is just half the truth, as parts of the scapula do move upward while rotating, and others move down. What are your thoughts on this?

    The second question is about people with an elevated shoulder girdle to start with: the upper trapezius is tense and kind of short from all the working with your arms moving upward and forward or just caused by stress (humans tend to pull their shoulders up in stressful/dangerous situations as kind of a primal instinkt to protect one of the most sensetive areas of the human body: the throat with its important arterias and oxygen supply) the lower trapezius is weak and overstretched. so for this person to balance this unnecessary shuolder girdle elevation, wouldn`t you cue some kind of downward action to activate the lower trapezius and free the shoulders and neck?
    people with balanced elevators / depressors wouldn`t need it of course, but i see so many clients with elevated shoulders!
    And sometimes cueing them to just try to let go of the tension and relax the shoulders won`t help as they have clear muscular imbalances within the shoulder girdle.
    How would you cue someone like this, with an elevated shoulder girdle to a neutral position without some kind of a depressing action?

    Puh thats been a really long comment with lots of questions, i hope you don`t mind! If its too much to adress in a single comment, i`ll understand!

    Anyways i really enjoy reading here and looking forward to MEETING you in Zurich in June at Das Pilateshaus!!! 🙂

    Kind regards
    Elena

    Reply
  • 15. Pilates Instrctor Bow Usa | Exercise To Get In Shape  |  January 23, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    […] Shoulder Girdle: A Delicate Balance | The Vertical … – Jan 08, 2012 · As the understanding of bio-mechanics progresses our actions and cues must follow. I find it pretty strange that while we as Pilates teachers are learning …… […]

    Reply
  • […] Shoulder Girdle: A Delicate Balance | The Vertical … – Jan 08, 2012 · As the understanding of bio-mechanics progresses our actions and cues must follow. I find it pretty strange that while we as Pilates teachers are learning …… […]

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