The shoulder is an unforgiving joint. It’s ball and socket structure is extremely mobile, and relies on muscles, tendons and ligaments to provide support. If one of those structures isn't properly supported, another will pick up the slack, increasing the risk of pain and injury. The four rotator cuff muscles are important for shoulder health. While this is true, you can't forget about the muscles that move your scapulae (shoulder blades), which provide stability for your shoulder joints. If the shoulder blade itself isn't stable, all the muscles that activate shoulder motion will be compromised and put you at a greater risk for injury. The greater stability you have in and around the shoulder blade, the better the shoulder muscles can work and activate, reducing the risk of injury in any of the ligaments, tendons and muscles of the shoulder joint. This is especially important if you lift heavy weights, play a throwing or swinging sport/position, or you're a swimmer.
This modified version of Plank is one of the most beneficial poses you can do to stabilize your shoulders. In addition, Plank will also strengthen your core and bone strength in your forearms and wrists. Your abdominal muscles will be engaged more than if Plank is performed simply on your hands alone, in which you hold your body at a higher angle.
Benefits of Forearm Plank:
Lie prone on your mat. In the beginning after an injury, start with doing the pose standing at a wall.
Spread your legs about hip-width apart. Place your forearms on the floor/wall- elbows directly under your shoulders. Flex your feet and tuck your toes under so the balls of your feet press into the floor. Contract your glutes and legs and lift your hips and thighs off the floor. At the wall, you will need to walk farther away from the wall until your shoulders are at a right angle to your upper arms and try to keep your feet flat on the floor.
Tighten your abdominals, looking at the floor/wall to align your neck and keep your back straight. Press your forearms into the floor and push through your upper back to keep from collapsing into your shoulders.
Avoid raising your hips up too high or letting them sag to the floor; your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet.
Breathe normally and hold this position for as long as you can. If you feel pain or can't maintain correct form, lower yourself to your knees and relax your muscles in child’s pose.
Be careful that your core is continually engaged.
If you have shoulder or neck injuries use a bolster under your chest to support your torso or clasp your hands together instead of keeping the forearms parallel.
If you have a neck injury, support your forehead on a block or folded blanket.
For more on Neck & Shoulder pain poses, join me on June 16 from 1-3pm for my Yoga Therapy for Neck & Shoulder pain.
At Ignite Yoga, we believe that yoga is for everyone–For people of all ages and all walks of life.