In this ATM lesson you will learn how to teach chronically tight shoulder muscles to release
Chronically contracted muscle continues to burn energy causing a buildup of lactic acid. The more acid there is in the muscle tissue, the more the muscle’s sensory cells become irritated. A 10% buildup of lactic acid will make the muscle feel tired and a 40% buildup will create a hot burning sensation. When the muscles fibers are continually contracted, the bloodstream can’t do its job of flushing out the lactic acid so you’re left with a muscle that will constantly feel painful. This lesson will help to relieve muscular discomfort in the shoulders.
I will give the directions for the R side of the neck and shoulders first. However, when you have learned the steps of this lesson you should start on the side that is giving you the most problem.
Sit towards the front of your chair, feet flat on the floor a comfortable distance apart and hands resting on your thighs.
1. Turn your head a little to the one side and then the other noticing where you hold tension in your shoulders. Is it easy or is there some hesitation when you turn from side to side? Is your range different on each side? If you look in a mirror you may notice that one shoulder is higher than the other shoulder.
2. Now, rest your L hand over the top of your R shoulder. Gently massage along the shoulder noticing where you feel muscle tissue—this is the top of your trapezius muscle.
3. When you’ve located the trapezius, stop there with your hand resting on top of the muscle. Make sure that the heel of your hand is to the front just above your collar bone and the fingers point down towards your shoulder blade. You should have skin to skin contact so that you can grasp the trapezius by pulling your fingers up and in towards the heel of your hand. If the muscle is very tight it won’t lift far but that’s alright as long as you feel the layers of skin lift slightly.
4. Bring your hand to your lap and take a short rest.
5. Return your L hand to your R shoulder, lift the trapezius muscle and keep it lifted.
6. Now, with the trapezius lifted, slowly and lightly turn your head a little bit away from the lifted muscle and then a little bit towards the lifted muscle. All you should feel is a very slight, gentle pull as your head turns away from your hand and shoulder and a release when the head turns back. Do that movement 2 or 3 times, bring your head back to center and then slowly release your hand and lower it to your lap.
7. Turn again and notice if the muscle is now more willing to participate equally with the other muscles without pulling and tightening. You may also notice that your range of motion or the quality of movement has changed. If your R shoulder is generally higher than the other one you may find that it has released and it now lies at the same level or lower than the L shoulder.
8. This time, rest your R hand over the top of your L shoulder and then gently massage along the shoulder.
9. When you’ve located the trap on this side, rest your hand on top of the muscle.
10. The heel of your hand is to the front just above your collar bone and the fingers point down towards your shoulder blade. Grasp the trapezius by pulling your fingers up and in towards the heel of your hand and keep it lifted.
11. Slowly and lightly turn your head a little bit away from the lifted muscle and then a little bit towards the lifted muscle 2 or 3 times, bring your head back to center and slowly release your hand and lower it to your lap.
12. Turn again and notice if the L trapezius muscle is more relaxed and if the quality of turning is more even as you go from side to side.
NOW - Look in the mirror again and notice if your shoulders are the same height?
Thousands of people have benefited from Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® lessons; however, we cannot anticipate the needs and/or limitations of individuals. The material contained in these lessons is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. Consult your doctor or physiotherapist if you have any concerns. Responsibility for the lessons is strictly that of the user.
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