Sunday, 4 June 2017

Avoiding yoga injuries - protecting your shoulders in Chaturanga Dandasana

The shoulder joint is the most unstable joint in the body  - it is a shallow ball and socket joint and because of this the muscles that support the joint must be strong but on the other hand this strength must be combined with flexibility.  In our daily lives we have a tendency to be forward reaching (think of working at a computer, preparing food, driving etc) which tightens the chest muscles and weakens the shoulder muscles.  

The glenhumeral joint is where the arm bone (humerous) fits into the ball and socket joint and is held in place by group of four muscles known as the rotator cuffs.  Some yoga poses such as Chaturanga Dandasana, Plank and Forearm Plank need care in practice if these muscles are not to be injured.  

Before you even attempt full Chaturanga Dandasana you need to practice poses that open the chest otherwise that shoulder muscles will take up the slack - practice poses such as Sphinx, Cobra, Bow etc.  You also need to be strong in the core so that it is your core that gives you support as you lower - practice poses such as Boat, Warrior 3 and Chair pose-please see 'Yoga Pose Gallery'.

Shoulder flexibility is also key.  Try the following shoulder stretches using a belt - sit in Easy pose or back on your heels.  Fold your strap in two and take hold of the ends.  Inhale stretch your arms up, exhale lower.  Repeat twice more.  Then opening  the belt up take your hands wider.  Inhale take your arms up, exhale take the belt down behind your back.  Inhale lift your arms back up, exhale lower to your start position.  Repeat twice more. Still with your arms wide, inhale take your arms up, exhale lower your left arm down to the left, sliding your hand down the belt to open up the right side of your body.  Inhale take your arms up, exhale repeat to the other side to open the left side of your body.  Repeat twice more.

Before you begin to practice Chaturanga Dandasana try some preparatory exercises:-  
Sit back on your heels and stretch your arms forward wrists flexed so that the fingers point up.  Breathe out and bend your elbows back tucking them into your waist.  Breathe in to extend your arms.  Repeat several times.

Now adding some strengthening to the action.  Stand an arms length away from a wall and place your hands flat on the wall. Breathe out bend your elbows back keeping them tucked in as before.  Breathe in to push back to your start position.  Repeat several times.  
Once you are comfortable with the action and have built up some strength you can try a modified version of Chaturanga Dandasana which you can also use in vinyassas.  Come onto all fours and take your knees back an inch or two.  Breathe out to lower bending your elbows back and into your waist as before.  

For full Chaturanga Dandasana, start in Plank position.  Press your heels back and have your hands directly under your shoulders.  Breathe out and engage your core, roll forward onto the balls of your feet then lower keeping your body in a straight line and your elbows tucked in as they bend.  Do not let your hips dip or your bottom lift as you lower.  Do not let your shoulders drop and keep them away from your ears.  Keep your chest open. Lower smoothly, do not do a belly flop!!

Remember Chaturanga Dandasana is an advanced pose and it is hard so until you are sure you are ready it is best to modify as above by lowering your knees to the mat from Plank. 

Please also see 'Avoiding yoga injuries' and 'Avoiding yoga injuries - Protecting your lower back in twists'.

If you are enjoying my videos and blog posts please would you consider a small donation? Please see-

Stay safe

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.