The Complexity Of The Shoulders

The Shoulder requires range, mobility and stability like no other joint in the Human body.  But, with all these demands, how can we keep it functioning correctly?

The Human shoulder is made up of three bones: 

  • The Clavicle (Collar bone)
  • The Scapula (Shoulder Blade)
  • The Humerus (Upper Arm Bone)

There are many muscles that surround the shoulder comprising of:

  • Deltoids
  • Pectoral muscles
  • Trapezius
  • Serratus Anterior
  • Rotator cuff muscles.

For this article I shall focus on these five areas, which may or may not have different components to them (i.e. Deltoids have anterior, middle and posterior fibres), but for this purpose I shall group them and keep things simple.

The shoulder joint has a wide range of mobility in most directions and is stable enough for actions such as lifting, pushing and pulling.  These multiple demands made of the joint make it prone to a number of potential injuries and complaints.  

Some of the more complex issues may need the techniques of a physiotherapist, the diagnosis of a doctor or in worst-case scenarios the expertise of a surgeon.  

However, a good Pilates studio is extremely well equipped to deal with:

  • Continued shoulder health
  • Correct alignment whilst exercising
  • Learning how to stabilize correctly
  • Improving posture for good shoulder function
  • Reducing shoulder tensions 
  • Improving range, stability, mobility & flexibility

I like to think of the shoulders as a shelf with supportive brackets underneath it, to help it stay up with ease and stability, whilst being secured to something larger and stronger.  That something larger and stronger is the back and the brackets are the Latissimus Dorsi and the Serratus Anterior. 

In opening up the chest, engaging the rotator cuff muscles and connecting into the back more, Pilates works to balance the shoulder muscles.  So, in effect, we strengthen the stabilisers underneath the shoulders to support what is commonly overworking above the shoulders.  This means those overworking muscles, which are creating the tension, get to relax.

Pilates equipment works with a spring system, which far reduces the weight used and gradually increases the resistance.  This allows the activation of the correct muscles to occur whilst exploring the various potential movements of the shoulder.  

If approached with too much weight the dominant muscles at the top of the shoulders will continue to overwork.  So, correct weight setting is crucial.  

If left alone and the imbalances remain unaddressed, when returning to activity, the complaint can often persist.  

Pilates offers a unique way to ‘build from basics’ in order to get back to a well functioning shoulder.  

So, go ahead and get rebalanced.  Mobilize your shoulders, relax and re-align yourself.  Make use of your local Pilates studio’s dynamic equipment and expertise.  Your shoulders will thank you!