Well, it's Post Christmas, mid-winter and although it is unusually temperate this year, it is still quite a lot colder. The days are short and the nights are long and although we are beginning to see the return of more daylight, we still have a way to go yet.
By nature, we have a tendency to ‘close up’ at this time of year and that can affect posture and muscle tension. As I have said so many times before, just because we feel we are not ‘doing anything’, we are always ‘doing something‘.
… and at this time of year if that something includes a little more indoor activity, involving computers, tablets and phones, immediately you can see why the muscles at the front of the shoulder capsule start to shorten. Add to that, feeling cold and wanting to curl up, arms folded. So let’s try a little test….
I’d like you to notice where your arms are right now, become aware of the muscles at the front of the shoulder capsule contracting to pull your arms forwards, the rhomboids that sit between the shoulder blades and the rotator cuff muscles that stabilise the joint, loosening to allow the forward movement. Then notice the varying muscles tensions in the neck – are your shoulders behaving like ear-warmers? – is the back of your neck curving to allow this?
Add to all this incidental postural strain – if you rake or blow leaves, scrape ice regularly from your car etc, you may see my point about shoulder strain and the colder weather!!
So what do I suggest?
An extra layer of clothing, so you don’t feel the need to curl up like a dormouse
Drop your shoulders and allow your neck to extend to it’s full length
Open out your chest – lie on your back on the floor with your arms pulled out to the side just relax
Try walking around the house holding a 2 litre bottle of water in each hand, to pull your shoulders downwards
Or with a book or two on your head – this is an excellent exercise – it can’t be done unless the body is evenly aligned!
Put away your computer/tablet and run around in the woods, – this has many benefits, the fresh air, embracing the season in its full glory, the exercise, increased seratonin and if you go with either a human or furry companion - oxytocin! Reducing stress, increasing immune function, sharpening the mind and increased variety of movement!
I hope this has given you some food for thought.
As always, this is general advice and should not be followed if you have any injury or serious concern, in which case medical help should be sought first.