Chest and Shoulder Opener

December 02, 2011


As Surfers we are constantly rotating our shoulders forward paddling and slouching over our board sitting for waves. In today’s day with cell phones and sitting on the computer, this also has a similar effect to too much forward rotation in our structure. The long term result is chronic pain in the shoulders, upper back and neck.
Being active in releasing pressure in the tension in the neck and shoulders will allow us to stabilize the shoulder’s and begin to correct slouching.

1. Interlace your fingers behind your shoulders, starting with the pinky fingers, with your palms facing the body to keep the chest and shoulders open. Make sure you are comfortable and keep your shoulder blades pulling down to protect your rotator cuff from over-stretching. Keep your thumbs and index fingers open and down and away from the body.
2. If clasping your fingers is uncomfortable and you are not able to keep your shoulders from lifting or coming forward, you can hold a strap between your hands. The ideal way is to make a loop with a yoga strap or belt that is the width of your shoulders. Place your wrists in the loop of the strap and keep your fingers wide open during the stretch as this will facilitate a deeper connection to your core. Use the breathing movements to open the connective tissue in the front body, strengthen the rotator cuff muscles that stabilize the scapula, and stretch the muscles in your chest. Lightly hold the strap behind you with the same intentions of opening the shoulders and chest and contracting your shoulder blades and rhomboids.
3. Take a deep breath in and allow your pelvic floor to open as you feel the breath initiating from the movement of your rib cage and oblique muscles. Imagine a balloon is in your ribs and you are blowing up the balloon with your breath. As you inhale rise up on your toes and contract your back muscles to strengthen your back extensors at the same time you pull back to stretch your chest. Visualize energy rising up the spine allowing your head to be as if floating on top of your spine.
4. On the exhale lower with control and return your heels onto the ground keeping your weight evenly distributed on your feet at the same time maintaining a feeling of keeping length in your trunk. Keep your hands reaching down towards the ground and bring your chin level as the top of the crown on your head lifts towards the sky. Imagine a string at the top of the head lengthening the neck.
5. During exhalation, accentuate the contraction of your muscles of exhalation in the rib and trunk area. Lengthen your waist as you exhale to train your core muscles to stabilize your core rather than flexing the spine which shortens and compresses the natural curves. When we do exhalation movements that cause spinal flexion, it leads to forward head and shoulder carriage than can inhibit our paddling strength and efficiency. The key to the exercise is to work with the breathing muscles in a way that creates a lengthening of the spine whether inhaling or exhaling.
Repeat a few times
The active breath movement on the inhale and squeezing the muscles in contraction, awakens the body, through breath, blood flow, muscles, nervous system, and quick muscle response with control.
Balance and control of movement
Flexibility with stability
structural alignment begins to be established and awakened.

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