I addressed this topic already a few years back (as you can tell from this video of my younger self). We always seem to be in this rounded or hunched position all day and sometimes it seems we live our lives this way. It is really important to strengthen the muscles in the backs of our shoulders. If our muscles aren’t working for us, a simple reminder to sit up straight just won’t be enough! However, if the muscles are strong, they do the work to pull us back and open. The Thera-Band is great for this.
I use a Franklin Band, which is extremely long. You don't need your band to be this long; it's fine if it's half the length.
It’s important that you don't squeeze your shoulder blades together and push your chest forward in order to pull your hands apart. Keep the front of your ribs down and together, then move your hands apart. It is just your hands and forearms moving as your upper arms rotate in their sockets.
Here are some common mistakes:
All of the above are signs that your rotator cuff is weak and you need to modify. Just give yourself more band! Start with your hands farther apart so you don't require as much strength to perform the movement correctly. If you don't feel anything at all, bring your hands closer together to start. This way you'll have more resistance.
But please remember, more resistance does not equal better results.
More is not better. Better is better.
Notice if you are rolling over one shoulder before the other one. It's another common mistake. Instead, roll both shoulders back at the same time.
In this last movement, make sure to think of reaching your arms far back instead of up, because this would cause your shoulders to elevate. We don't want that. Think more about reaching away and down.
You might not be able to get your arms very far back and that's ok! Just be sure that to keep your rib cage back (don't push your chest forward.)
Your ribs go down as your arms go up.How are you and your upper back feeling? The muscles are now doing all the work of opening the back and shoulders. Do you feel taller? Do you feel you are having to put less effort into standing tall because your muscles are doing this for you?
I hope you enjoyed this! Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a joy-filled day!
Want a whole list of exercises that will create width across the chest? The Programming & Sequencing chapter of the Pilates Encyclopedia has a list of exercises designed to lengthen the pectoral muscles and strengthen the back of the shoulders. You'll even get videos and detailed instructions for each exercise!
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