To keep any fitness or wellness regimen effective it is critical to find balance between strength and flexibility. Too much focus on strength training leads to a lack of mobility while over stretching can lead to a lack of stability.
Often we think of this balance as something we cultivate from one side of the body to the other. But the need for balance between upper body and lower body is just as essential to overall wellness and development.
Utilizing similar training techniques for hips as well as shoulders maintains balance throughout the body and we find that arms and legs are proportionately balanced in range of motion (ROM) as well as strength.
Do you sit in front of a computer or behind the wheel of a vehicle all day? Or engage in regular strength training by pushing, pulling or lifting?
Below we have an example of a shoulder opener that assists in keeping maximum range of motion while stabilizing and developing strength. This stretch is effective in balancing the natural tension caused by these circumstances. As always, move in to any stretch with care and seek a depth that provides some intensity or discomfort without crossing the threshold in to pain.
Use the scorpion mat’s visual guides and these tips to move safely in to a balanced state.
We’ll use the left arm as our example:
Lying on the belly, extend the left arm to the side with palm of the hand on the floor. Allow the hand to rest just above the plane of the shoulder and not higher than the forehead. You should be able to look straight at the left hand if you turn your head. This ensures that as you move in to position the shoulder moves back in to safe and effective alignment.
As you exhale begin to roll toward the extended left arm with your head lifted in line with the spine. Resting the head on the mat or a block can create too much mobility in the shoulder over time so make sure you keep the head lifted to strengthen the neck. This cultivates healthy range of motion.
As you roll toward the left arm keep your attention on the feedback you get from the left shoulder. In the beginning you may find immediate resistance so don’t try to push through for the sake of more depth. Allow the shoulder to open gradually by trying to relax the shoulder a little more with each exhale and allowing the hips to rotate and lower back to twist. Envision your right buttock eventually resting on the floor.
Most people should begin to approach this position by using the right hand to press in to the mat to assist in a gradual increase in depth until the arm bind is accessible. In the picture, you can see the hands bound to assist in maximum stretch.
This external rotation of the shoulder helps reduce physical tension caused by strength training and daily stress.
You can use the scorpion mat’s visual guides and these tips to move safely in to a balanced state.