Tight Neck And Shoulder Muscles? Time To Look At The Shoulder Blade
Why You Get Tight Neck and Shoulder Muscles
If you find that you stretch, foam roll or do ball release exercises for your tight neck and shoulder muscles, and only get short-lasting relief, then it’s time to change up your plan of action. It’s no use having a good range of motion if you can’t control it. It’s important after you get a joint or muscle moving, you re-train your brain on how to use this new range of motion safely.
Take your hamstrings as an example: you stretch them every night. They feel good afterwards but you wake up the next morning and they are back to being tight. It’s because your brain doesn’t feel it can control this extra range. It automatically protects itself by stiffening up again. This is why it is important that every time you restore motion, you transform the way our brain communicates with our body and improve the way they perform together.
Over the past few blogs, we have been dealing with mobility in the mid-back region. Each blog contains exercises to help restore, transform and maintain range of motion. Now you have restored mobility to the joints needing it, you can move on to stabilising the structures that cause us injury when they break down.
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What Does Your Shoulder Blade Have To Do With It?
The shoulder blade is the link between our neck, mid-back and shoulder joint (technically it is part of the shoulder joint, but you don’t need a full-blown anatomy lesson). The shoulder requires both stability and mobility to function properly.
Think of the shoulder blade and shoulder joint the same way you would your hip (they are both ball and socket joints, and they both require large ranges of motion and plenty of stability to ensure they function pain-free). I bet you have done some glute activation exercises in your time to stabilise the hip. So why not do the same with your shoulder and shoulder blade.
The Shoulder blade or scapula for those playing along at home requires plenty of stability. It is the foundation from which you draw motion in your arm. It is controlled by a fair few muscles, but the big players are the Serratus anterior and a group of muscles known as the rotator cuff.
What’s this about the rotator cuff?
The rotator cuff plays an important role in our ability to move our hands. It allows them to guide all those tricky hand movements. The rotator cuff is also often a source of pain and injury, and this can often be traced back to poor scapula stability. If you find yourself constantly getting shoulder pain or have had trouble with your rotator cuff in the past, it may be time to look at the scapula as the source of the problem, not the rotator cuff muscles. In particular a little guy with a tricky name we mentioned earlier, the Serratus Anterior. It is a smallish muscle that attaches your shoulder blade to your rib cage (and body). When it is not pulling its weight, the rotator cuff muscles start working overtime until they go on strike for better working conditions (otherwise known as pain in and injury)
Fixing your Tight Neck And Shoulder Muscles
One of my favourite exercises for building good shoulder stability is below. The Quadruped (4 point kneeling) with Serratus Iso is great for getting rid of those tight neck and shoulder muscles. It is a great starting point as it gets your serratus anterior working, and takes the stress of your rotator cuff muscles. It also works your core and neck muscles as well making it a great band for buck exercise.
Don’t be described by its simple appearance though. It packs some serious bang for the buck. Most people get the death wobbles after 15-30 secs when it is done correctly.
Check it out below:
- Start on kneeling on hands and knee, wrist underneath shoulders and knees under hips.
- Spread your fingers as wide as possible. The Elbow pit (front of elbow) points out over your thumb.
- Lengthen your neck so it feels as long as possible keeping your eyes focused between your thumbs.
- Push the rub cage up in the shoulder girdle, spread shoulder blades as far apart as possible.
- Tuck your toes under your feet, slowly lift your knees 2cm off the ground.
- Hold for 15-30 secs (as long as you can).
- repeat 3-5 times.
- When you can hold comfortably for 5 x 1 min then you are ready to progress.
I love this drill because it is so simple, yet so challenging when done well. If you need help getting your upper back moving, why not revisit: Mid Back Pain, The Most Important Exercise Your Not Doing, of if your ready to Build Superman Strong Shoulders we’ve got you cover by clicking here:
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