Thursday, July 30, 2009
Core Muscles of the Shoulders
Previous articles in this series have described the core muscles of the torso and hips. We’ll continue with the shoulders and in the next cover the neck core.
What’s all the fuss over core muscles anyway? Your grandmother didn’t need a personal trainer to teach her about the core. Is this all some scheme to get us to sign up for exercise classes?
Your grandma knew how to use her core, because she built strength in her body with daily activities. Nowhere is this more evident than in her shoulders and arms. Imagine washing your laundry by hand and hanging it on the line to dry. Or scrubbing the floor on your hands and knees. Chances are your grandma walked farther and carried more than men do today. Those simple activities develop strength in the core. Today’s pastimes, watching TV, loading the dishwasher and working on the computer, bypass the core.
Take the current sedentary lifestyle, add our fascination with speed and pretty muscles, and the result is a modern epidemic of core weakness. So let’s put things in reverse and find the core muscles of your shoulders.
Raise one arm in front of you and continue to lift it up -— as long as it doesn’t hurt anywhere -— until your arm comes alongside your ear. Do it again -— but this time take more than ten seconds to lift your arm and another ten seconds to lower it. As before, don’t do any movement that causes you pain.
Moving slowly requires the use of the core, so if it felt substantially different the second, slower time, then using the core of your shoulder isn’t a habit. By the way, you can slow down any movement to improve your use of the core. Try walking by taking one step every second to feel more of your torso and hip core.
The core of the shoulder includes two sets of muscles, those that keep the shoulder blade in proper position (most importantly the serratus anterior, trapezius and rhomboids) and those that stabilize the arm bone in the shoulder socket (the rotator cuff: supraspinitus, infraspinitus, teres minor, and subscapularis).
Here are some exercises that will help you strengthen both sets of the shoulder core.