Much is spoken of soft hands and soft elbows when riding however very rarely is much thought given to the shoulders other than are they rounded?
The thing is the soft and stillness of your hands and elbows relies on a well functioning shoulder girdle. The shoulder girdle refers to the Scapula and the Clavicle and the Coracoid Joint that connects them together.
There are many muscles involved with Shoulder Function but the main ones to consider are Serratus Anterior, Pec Minor, Levator Scapulae, Rhomboids and Trapezuis.
As the shoulder is not a weight bearing joint stability has been sacrificed in favour of mobility.
This unfortunately means it is a prime candidate for instability and dysfunction. If you do not have a stable shoulder girdle you will not have stable elbows or hands as their actions start at the shoulder.
As many of us spend hours of the day in poor posture (Hunching, lifting……)the first thing we must do to improve our shoulders is to actually restore their movement patterns and function.
These are two great exercises for just that.
Firstly the shoulder blade decompression. This can help to loosen the shoulder muscles and help you to feel their movement.
On all fours without bending your elbows retract your shoulder blades-this will feel like you are dropping them down and that your shoulders come up. You should aim to keep your neck and shoulder muscles relaxed throughout. Just do 10-20 of these.
The second exercise focuses on restoring the most basic function of the shoulder blades and that is to retract.
This is much harder than you think if you are not used to doing it! Standing up put one arm in front of you keeping it straight and your neck and upper shoulders relaxed retract your shoulder blade so that the arm moves backwards. Everything else should stay still-no hunching your shoulders or poking your chin out! Once you can do the arms singularly do both together. I like to start singularly to encourage symmetry and spot any imbalance.
Once you are up to both arms moving relaxed and freely start to hold the retraction for 5-10 seconds maintaining a relaxed neck and upper shoulders also notice if your elbows try to turn out.........