Do your shoulders creek and crack when you move them? Do you notice that you are starting to look like you are carrying the weight of the world on your drooping shoulder when you look in the mirror? Are you suffering from pain and stiffness in your upper body? If you’re wondering “Can I use Qigong for shoulder pain?” The answer is.....YES!!
Qigong is quickly sweeping North America as the next revolution in physical exercise and moving meditation. Its exercises are composed of soft, slow-moving, bodyweight movements. The exercises are gentle enough for all fitness levels and all ages to perform, yet possess powerful healing powers both from an energetic and physical perspective.
How Does Qigong Help Shoulder Pain?
The movements incorporate strength, flexibility, range of motion, and postural stability as well as respiratory and cardiovascular stimulation. In addition, the movements are tied to specific visualizations and intentions that turn the physical movements into moving meditations. Their effect is as much mental and emotional as it is physical and energetic. It seems that once again, what was old, is now... NEW!!
Correct posture is so important when it comes to physical strength as well as offsetting potential overuse or overstrain injuries. Did you know that other than by muscles, the bones of your arms are only attached to your skeleton by one ligament in the centre of your chest at the top of your sternum?
This freedom of skeletal structure allows for the fantastic mobility and dexterity the shoulders and arms possess. But because the shoulder girdle is so maneuverable, if the muscles aren’t developed and balanced, joint irritation, muscle impingement and nerve entrapment are common results.
Yes, strength is pivotal, but even more important is kinesthetic awareness. This is the awareness of your body position in space. Having strong shoulder muscles doesn’t help much if you are still slouching like some kind of cave-dwelling creature.
Although modern workout programs are beginning to focus more and more on functional movements, Qigong workouts have been doing it for hundreds of years.
How to Use Qigong for Shoulder Pain?
There are many Qigong exercises for shoulder pain and irritation. The power of these Qigong movements is that they train the body to move…..PROPERLY! Yes, flexion and extension in the frontal plane of motion is important, but it's the rotational capability of the shoulder that really tells the tale of shoulder health.
The rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder girdle allow for circumductive (circular) movement of the joint. For this type of movement to have structural strength and power, the shoulders need to sit back (posterior) and down (inferior). Think of a soldier standing at attention!
When the shoulders are pulled back and down, the muscles between the shoulder blades (mid fibre trap and rhomboids) and the muscle on the side of the back (latissimus Dorsi) do their job of stabilizing the joint.
In this position, the muscles, bones and tendons of the arms and shoulders have all the space they need to do the jobs they are designed to do. That being the case, Qigong movements for shoulder pain tend to focus on rotational movements as well as protraction and retraction of the shoulder blades.
It's not about standing at attention every second of the day. It’s about being aware of the position of your body throughout the day. By training exercises that meditatively connect your mind to what it feels like to rotate, bend, flex and stretch, you become quite aware when your body is in a good or bad position….when you’re not training. Without awareness, there will never be change, at least not for the better that is!
Here are Three of my Favourite Qigong Exercises for Shoulder Pain
1st Qigong Exercise for Shoulder Pain - Opening the lung
On a physical level, the movement of this exercise activates all the flexor and extensor, abductor and adductor muscles on the front and rear portions of the arms, shoulders, chest and back. These are the muscles that help us to push, pull and lift objects with our upper body.
Muscles such as the biceps, triceps, pectorals, trapezius, rhomboid, latissimus dorsi and deltoids. It also loosens the spine by alternately flexing and extending the back during the movement. This helps to regain strength and structural stability of the entire shoulder girdle, helping to relieve pain and avoid future injury.
2nd Qigong Exercise for Shoulder Pain - Twisting Metal
On a physical level, the movement of this exercise activates the muscles of the rotator cuff. These muscles are responsible for rotational movement and stability of the shoulder joint. In addition, it stimulates the supinator and pronator muscles of the arm which act on the elbow and wrist.
These muscles help us to perform all twisting or rotating movements with the shoulders, elbows and hands. They are the smaller, often forgotten about, but very important muscles that aid in everyday actions we do with our upper body.
3rd Qigong Exercise for Shoulder Pain - Kun
On a physical level, this movement focuses on increasing the internal and external rotation of the shoulder joint. Limitations and infrequency of these types of movements are the cause of many of the chronic pains and injuries that people suffer with. These same muscles are some of the most often injured during falls where an outstretched arm was used to brace for the body’s impact with the ground.
On an energetic level, all three exercises stimulate Qi (energy) flow through the acupuncture meridians that travel through the shoulders and arms. By moving Qi through the Lung, Large & Small Intestine, Heart, Pericardium and San Jiao acupuncture meridians, these exercises promote the movement of blood and oxygen throughout the corresponding muscles and tissues. This results in the stimulation of the healing process as well as maintaining overall proper physical function.
Limited physical activity and the resulting small ranges of motion that people perform throughout their regular daily lives is ruining us as a physical being. Our poor posture and the resulting irritation, inflammation and eventual degeneration and injury have become an all too common complaint of WAAAAY too many people in the modern “chained to the desk” work world.
But fear not, Qigong may just be the answer we’ve been looking for. It's an exercise for the mind and body that can be used as little or as much as we like. As the saying goes, “every little bit helps!” Whether it's used on a daily basis or only a few times a week, using Qigong for shoulder pain has the power to bring your mind and body back into balance and free you of the pains that stop you from moving.
...Give it a try!
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