The Saga of a Shoulder Injury: The Law of Little Things

October 25, 2010

It takes time and retraining to heal an injury and to learn and integrate movements that are both functional and effortless. Often after an injury we develop habits that interfere with this learning and we don’t even know that we’re doing them. It is these little things that often go unnoticed and hinder full recovery.

“What are you doing with your wrist when you move your arm?” is a question that came up last week when I was working with a client who has problems with range of motion in her L arm and shoulder. She had lifted her arm forward at shoulder height and had her elbow bent. Then she moved her arm to the side and back. It was quite obvious that she was having difficulties taking her arm back on that side.

My job is to observe and notice how people do movements and the thing that stood out was the way she was holding her wrist. Her hand was bent backwards a little and it seemed like she was initiating the movement with the back of her knuckles.

I had her lie down on the table on her R side and then repeat the same movement a few times in this position; by taking a person out of their normal orientation (in this case sitting) and putting them in a different position (side lying), their brain wakes up and pays more attention. I asked her to notice what she was doing with her wrist and to exaggerate the backward bending as she moved the arm. I then showed her how to soften the way she was holding her wrist and hand. It was like magic; with a softer wrist she was able to do the movement much more easily and her range immediately increased.

Once my client learned to soften her wrist and simply let the hand balance gently above her arm she was able to make the movement to the side and back with a significant increase in range and ease. Of course there’s more to it than that but every time you make a little discovery that will improve the ease of movement it takes you that much closer to recovering the full range and function of your arm. Remember, the road to recovery depends on the “Law of Little Things”.

If you have any questions or comments visit me, as feldylady on Twitter or on my Facebook page under Sandra Bradshaw, Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner. 

NEXT WEEK: More strategies to extend the arm further and to move it in other directions. Check in next Monday for more suggestions.


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Feldenkrais®, Feldenkrais Method®, Awareness Through Movement®, and Functional Integration® are registered service marks of the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America. Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner ™ and Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teacher ™ are certification marks of the Feldenkrais Guild®.