Routine and Posture Adjustments

After our ten-day vacation, my evening technical writing classes started, and I got a cold the same week. Then the weather changed and fall came. My daily time management priorities changed too because of all the homework I have every week. Now it’s a month later. It has taken me until this week to adjust my exercise routine and for it to pick up speed.
When I went back to boxing after more than two weeks off, my left shoulder started hurting again during the workouts in a way that it hadn’t in many weeks. This has to do with posture. My shoulders, because of a lifetime of desk jobs, naturally curve forward. When I try to hold them back, so that they make a straight line across, I end up “cheating” by also holding them up with those little muscles that connect the shoulders to the neck. Allowing my shoulders to curve forward when I’m hitting the punching bags is what makes them hurt.
I also discovered that my cardio ability had diminished a little, and when jumping rope it was very difficult to do anything but regular two-footed jumping. Jumping rope, to my surprise, also tired out my shoulders fast—but just the muscle, not the joint as was happening with punching. Just spinning the jumprope is a workout for the outer top shoulder muscle if you keep your shoulders back and down in a stable position.
When Cappy (the boxing coach) asked me how my workouts were going, whether I was still learning new things or whether I was getting bored, I said I was just trying to hang onto my fitness routine after all the recent events. I also told him about the shoulder problem and said I want to concentrate on correct posture until it comes naturally.
He grabbed my shoulders and demonstrated what is right and what is wrong. There’s a tight muscle in the front of the shoulder—or maybe it’s the pectoral—that pulls my shoulders forward, and a muscle under the back of my arm (part of the triceps) that should be helping to hold the shoulders back. But that muscle is not toned enough to counteract the tight one in front. This is if I understood correctly. Finally it simplified in my mind: I’ll try to be aware of my shoulders throughout the day and try not to let them curve forward. They should form a straight line across my body behind my neck, not a bracket shape that curves forward at each end.
Before last night’s workout, I decided to try warming up by doing a few pull-ups (I can only do two at a time anyway) and by hanging from the bar for a shoulder and back stretch. Hanging from the bar with my toes on the floor allowed me to arch my back forward slightly and accentuate the stretch in the fronts of my shoulders. During the workout, I concentrated more on my shoulder position than on hitting hard or fast. This made me feel great after the workout, when I felt that my whole upper body had been stretched and challenged, starting a fine-tuning process that I hope will strengthen my shoulders, lats, and triceps as well as make my posture work better for punching the bags.
Today I repeated the hanging stretch and pull-ups here in our basement and then tried holding 10-pound weights up for three minutes with the proper shoulder posture. The way Cappy teaches us to do this is to align the upper arms parallel to and against the sides of the body; press the shoulders down and back as if squeezing the shoulder blades together; and hold the hands up near the shoulders with or without weights. If you’re holding weights, you should feel the weight going down through the lats and back, not putting strain on the shoulder joint. People who already have the posture down pat can then extend the weights in a mini punching motion, keeping the shoulders back and down even as the arm extends. For me, it’s a sweat-producing challenge just to stand with the weights in the right position. I’m going to do a few minutes of stretching and weights every day for a while, as well as build my everyday awareness of my shoulders, and see if I can fine-tune my shoulders to be less prone to pain.

2 thoughts on “Routine and Posture Adjustments”

  1. Thanks for visiting Mr. Hassle, I enjoyr your blog as well, I like the header design in NWNotes. Thought I’d pop over to your fitness page. Maybe you’d like to try a shoulder exercise I learned in PT for my low back. I use an exercise ball, but you could use anything at all. Prop your feet up on the exercise ball (or sofa, stool, floor…or even your knees on the floor) Get into push up position, and while keeping your arms straight and your elbows slightly unlocked, push your spine straight up towards the ceiling, keeping your back flat. then again, keeping your arms straight and back flat, sink closer to the floor. Repeat 10 times or so. This exercises your serratus anterior which connect the undersurface of your scapula to your rib cage. I never knew I had these muscles and this sort of exercised helped me keep my shoulders down without straining.
    Sorry for the long comment, but again, thanks for visiting!

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