Yoga For Healthy Shoulders: Examining Chaturanga Dandasana

Today we’re here to talk about YOGA. At Rebalance, we see many people for head and neck issues and shoulder injuries who also practice yoga. Sometimes, the way certain yoga poses are performed can contribute to and/or exacerbate head, neck and shoulder pain. Chaturanga Dandasana is a pose that often contributes to conditions like bicep tendonitis, cervical herniation, capsular problems in the shoulder and general shoulder or neck discomfort.

Chaturanga: What Not to Do

Often people go into chaturanga by moving their shoulders toward their hands. When you do that, the shoulders come forward in the sockets. This position uses too much of the front of the shoulder and not enough of the back. This imbalance creates a lot of stress on the bicep tendon, the front of the shoulder and it also moves the neck forward, which strains the neck


Chaturanga: What to Do

When you go into chaturanga, you want to keep your elbow over your wrist and move forward as you lower. This will keep a neutral neck curve and keep the arm bones centered in the sockets.

How to Activate Your Shoulders

Here’s an exercise you can do to start to understand the balance between some of the muscles of the shoulder. This includes the muscles in the back of the lower part of the shoulder blade, the underside of the shoulder blade and the muscles of the chest wall. When all of those muscles are working together you have a much more balanced stable shoulders.

  1. 1. Take your elbows to 90 degrees so they’re in line with your shoulders. Make sure your elbows aren’t too far behind or below. They should be parallel with your shoulders.
  2. 2. Think about finding length between the shoulder blades. There should be no strain in your neck. The muscles in the lower part of the shoulder blade should be engaged to maintain this position.
  3. 3. From here, turn the palms in toward each other so the pinkies move toward each other. In that position, activate your bicep muscle in the front of the arm, keep nice length between your ears and shoulders and think about nice activation through the lower shoulder blade muscles. The shoulder blades should have length between them.
  4. 4. Keeping the bicep active, rotate your palms in the opposite direction, keeping your pinkies moving toward each other. You should maintain a very active shoulder.
  5. 5. Keeping the same level of activation, try extending your arms (like a warrior position) or coming forward into a weight bearing position (e.g, hands and knees, cat/cow, or plank). This amount of activity is what we want in all of our weight bearing arm positions to help keep the shoulder centered in the socket.

This exercise will help you become aware of what muscles you are and aren’t using in your shoulder.

If you’re experiencing shoulder and neck issues, physical therapy coupled with medical therapeutic yoga can help you find relief. Click here to schedule a complimentary phone call to discuss your symptoms.

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