Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Yoga for muscle strength - Part 3 Arms and Shoulders

The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body in your body.  Unfortunately this also means the most unstable.  The shoulder is a ball and socket joint.  The problem is that the socket into which the ball of the arm bone (humerus) fits is very shallow compared with the hip ball and socket joint and so it is vital that the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint are strong enough to prevent the ball slipping out of the socket resulting in a dislocated shoulder.  However this strength needs to be balanced with flexibility to allow the shoulder joint to have a full range of motion which helps prevent osteoarthritis.

Shoulder muscles often weaken because of poor posture and conversely it is important to strengthen shoulder muscles to maintain good posture.  

Arm strength too is important for many every day activities such as lifting, pushing and pulling.

The sequence below will help maintain strong and yet flexible shoulders and arms:-

Start in Easy Pose - interlace your fingers, press your palms away, breathe in and stretch your arms up, breathe out take your arms out and down.  Repeat interlacing your fingers the other way so that if you normally have the right finger on top, this time have the left.  Come to all 4s.

Push-ups - from all 4s take your knees slightly back.  Breathe in and lower, tucking your elbows into your sides. Breathe out and press back into the start position and continue for 10 repetitions.  Sit back on your heels and bringing your hands to your heels, rest your forehead on the mat.  When you are ready, sit back on your heels or come back to seated.  

Cow Face Arms - if you need a belt, place one over your right shoulder.  Inhale, stretch your right arm up, breathe out and bending your right elbow, bring your right hand down your back.  Inhale, stretch your left arm forward, exhale, externally rotate your left arm up your back so that your hands meet in a yogic grip.  If your fingers do not meet, hold the belt and inch your fingers towards one another.  Come back to all 4s.  

Plank to Side Plank - from all 4s, take your right leg back and slightly lower your right hip. Without moving your right leg, bring the left leg to meet it.  Make sure your shoulders are over your hands.  Hold for a few breaths then breathe in, lift your left arm up to the ceiling, turning your feet so that you are on the little toe side of your right foot, big toe side of your right foot.  Lift through the right side of your body.  To modify bend your left knee bringing your left foot to the mat.  Breathe out and come back to Plank then repeat second side.  

Upward Facing Dog - from Plank bend your elbows back lower to the mat (drop your knees if you need to) and bring your forehead to the back of your hands. Tuck the toes of your right foot and press your right heel back to lengthen your spine.  Repeat with the left foot.  Bring your hands to rib cage level.  Inhale press into your hands and come up.  Your arms can be straight or if you feel any pinching in your lower back soften your elbows.  Breathe out to lower then press back into a Child Pose.

Dolphin - from Child's Pose stretch your arms forward and come up onto all 4s.  Bring your elbows down on the mat and position your hands either side of a block with the long edge of the block facing you.  Your first finger and thumb should form an L shape around the near edge of the block.  Breathe in and as you breathe out lift your hips up.  Sit back on your heels.

Eagle Arms - take your right arm under the left and bend both elbows.  If your arms allow, take the left arm in front of the right and join the palms. To modify the arm position you can have the backs of the hands together with the right arm under the left, or simply have the elbows and palms together. Lift your elbows level with the mat.  Come to seated with your knees bent.

Tricep Dips - take your hands behind your hips fingers pointing back towards your body. Inhale bend your elbows back, exhale press back to straight arms.  Continue for 10 repetitions.  Lie back on the mat, hug your knees in and rock side to side then take a savasana.  

On the wellness blog, 40plusandalliswell there is a blog post on arm and shoulder strengthening with weights, 'The importance of maintaining muscle strength over 40-Part 3 Arms and Shoulders'-

You might also like:-

'Yoga for muscle strength - Part 1 Legs'-

'Yoga for muscle strength - Part 2 Core'-

Janet x 

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