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Shoulders creep up


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My shoulders move upwards when I move my arms; while my teachers have said it's not so much that I look like a turtle, nonetheless, they still move. My problem is that I just don't feel it, making it difficult to correct.


At times, I purposely "pull down" my shoulders when I am working with my arms, but it only puts tension around my shoulder area.


Any suggestions on how to become more aware of shoulder movements that you don't feel, especially when you're not in front of the mirror?

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I would try focusing on the center of your sternum instead of your shoulders. Lift the sternum up and you will see your spine straighten and your shoulders fall into a relaxed "Down" position in balance with the spine. Yoga. You can apply it to dance as well.

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I find that if I think about lengthening my neck (rather than holding my shoulders down) while I move my arms then my shoulders stay down without the pulling and tension you describe.

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When you think of lowering your shoulders, it can help to think of your lats as initiating the work rather than the trapezius.

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  • 1 month later...
I would try focusing on the center of your sternum instead of your shoulders. Lift the sternum up and you will see your spine straighten and your shoulders fall into a relaxed "Down" position in balance with the spine. Yoga. You can apply it to dance as well.


This indeed! There is an automatic pull when you lift the sternum that brings your shoulders down into the position they should always be.

I often forget about my shoulders too, and I find that this little tip is easy to follow and immediately corrects the position :shrug:

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It wasn't very long ago that I wondered if there had been a day, in the last 20 years or so, when I lifted my shoulders in a shrug and then forgot to put them down, and they just stayed up.

I learned that lift your sternum technique when I was a teen and it was very freeing. I could breath, and move and stopped getting continual "shoulders down" corrections in class. I should have practiced that every day since.

Somehow over my years off ballet, something unfortunate happened to my shoulders. I saw my High school senior picture recently, and my shoulders had a definite slope to them. It wasn't a lot but I was wearing one of those off the shoulder wraps, so it was easy to see. I don't have the slightest slope now. I have been removing shoulder pads form clothes for years. In fact, I wonder if my shoulders might be inclined some days.

It looks bad when I go to 5th position arms unless I am very very careful.

A mirror and the sternum lift help a lot.

I thought I always had high square shoulders, but apparently I got them later in life via muscle tension. I should go find some soup cans and do some shrugs. Maybe my body will figure out the difference between up and down if I do them enough. Tired muscles relax. That is what I was taught back before the earth cooled.

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I have this problem, too, so I sympathize. In fact, for me it's part of a whole-system misalignment which I have been working on for years - this is not something you can "fix" quickly, but continuous progress is immensely rewarding in my experience.


For me, a really (really!!) good massage therapist has been probably the biggest contributor. But near-daily ballet classes, acupuncture, and chiropractic have all contributed significantly. For us adults who have developed less than perfect alignment habits, it's a LOT of work to break them.


Myself, I retired at 55 because I was clearly about to suffer "death by swivel chair" if I didn't. At 56 I started taking ballet classes; now I'm 62 and halfway there. You are much younger, so might get there a lot faster.


I'd love to prescribe the right solution, but in my experience you have to figure that out yourself by trying different things (and different practitioners of them) as much as you can. The great massage guy is the third one O tried; I won't even list the modalities I gave up on.


For what it's worth, the most recent quantum leap was a teacher asking for "table-top arms" - i.e. arms flat from shoulder to fingertip, as opposed to the usual "let a ball roll down from neck to finger on a continuous slope". The image is in fact incorrect, but it requires that you bring your shoulders back and down to get there, and it's worth having your elbow and hand too high for a while in order to get the shoulders feeling right. At least, it has been so for me. I'll get the arms back down a bit next year, once my shoulders are doing better! This would never have made any sense without the other work; for example a bit over a year ago a wonderful teacher (since moved) said to "engage your lats". That helped a lot - after I looked up the lats on the web and figured out what and where they were!


It's just a lot of work, and you have to do a large part of it on your own. The plus side is, you get to be legitimately proud of your hard work!

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One more thing:

I had a Jazz teacher friend point out in class that we should feel our arms begin at the bottom of our spines. That was her way of saying "engage your lats" for those who didn't have a lot of human anatomy in school.

It was also a great help in finding energy to send out through the arms, and support for them. Otherwise it seemed like a lot of work to hold them out in second position for a long time. It also helped me keep my shoulders down.

I like to visualize my muscles working from memory of anatomical charts of the muscles too, but then I always want to know how everything is working. I think I probably retain my status as the only student who ever took Kinesiology as an elective at my college.

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