A student in one of my Yoga Tune Up® therapy ball classes pulled me aside after class recently to ask about nagging tightness that she was having at the front of her shoulder. Knowing her as a student, I am aware that she is both working on her PhD dissertation and is regularly powerlifting. Whoa. Between the keyboard and the barbell, that’s a whole lotta internal rotation of the shoulder! It’s no wonder she was pointing, with a grimace I might add, directly at her pec minor. Looking even casually at her shoulder girdle it was apparent that her shoulders appeared rounded forward from the pec minor pulling the scapula forward into protraction, and downwardly rotated towards the front of her chest. Even the inferior angle of her scapula was sticking out noticeably.
Her main complaint, along with the pain and tightness, was that she felt she had “slumped” posture from sitting at her computer for so long. She tried to resolve this by shoving her mid thoracic spine forward towards her sternum, in a mock exaggeration of “perfect” 1950’s military posture. Not only does this flatten the mid thoracic curve (which is designed to support our spines in a way to keep strain out of our neck and shoulders), but it also does nothing to address her shoulder placement. While her shoulders may feel farther back because of the distortion she’s created with her spine, those little pec minors are, in fact, still shortened and giving her the appearance of slumped shoulders. All she’s doing is layering overworked paraspinal muscles on top of it all!
So what’s a brainy powerlifter to do? I suggested that she use her Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls to roll out that tight pec minor tissue (as I demonstrate in the video below). Because of her tendency to to flatten her mid thoracic curve, I also cued her to be aware not to thrust her spine forward, as an Olympic gymnast might, as she raises her arms behind her, but instead to work to maintain neutral in her spinal alignment.