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  1. #1
    Established BHUZzer khadiya's Avatar
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    Exercises for Armpits?

    Hi everyone

    I've been dancing for about 5/6 years and I've alway had a lot of trouble with flexibility/movement in my upper body, particularly in my arms and shoulders. In comparison, my hips are quite flexible and controlled and my chest isolations are coming along slowly. I also do ashtanga yoga every week to improve my general health and flexibility and have noticed that the movements I stuggle with are all upper body related (I cannot come close to 'binding' in any position in comparison to all sorts of bendyness in the stuff that focuses on hips).

    A couple of years ago, when I was living in another area, my then teacher devoted a great deal of time to improving my flexibility 'up there' and got me to the point where I was able to do a sort of shoulder shimmy (yes, that's how stiff everything is!). However, things haven't really improved much since then and I'm becoming so frustrated, partly because this problem holding me back and partly because I understand the 'theory' of engaging the middle and lower trapezius and the ribcage in shoulder movements but try as I might, the practice just doesn't happen.

    It has been suggested recently that I could do with getting more in touch with/strengthening my serratus anterior muscles so I was wondering if there are any particular exercises/stretches that are good for this.

    It may not be relevant, but I work in publishing which means computer-based, sedentary work and I also have arms that are a little shorter than would be expected for my height.

    Help!! I'm getting so dispirited with my inability to crack this problem.


  2. #2
    Ultimate BHUZzer kina's Avatar
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    Re: Exercises for Armpits?

    is it only the serratus (sp?) or are you also inflexible in the pectorals (chest), do you round your shoulders forward?
    - A deeply desired goal gives context to present experience... M. Stanton Jones

    -Truth is one, paths are many. Sivananda.

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  3. #3
    Established BHUZzer khadiya's Avatar
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    Re: Exercises for Armpits?

    That's a really interesting question Kina, thank you.

    I think I'm going to give a bit of a yes and no answer. I do round my shoulders forward as a default (especially at work and if I'm reading/sewing). However, I'm quite aware that I do this and I often tend to end up pushing my shoulders back (often in an unconscious attempt to 'counteract' the problem). You can imagine how odd this can look.

    My pecs could do with improvement but I can isolate them and perform activities/moves that uses them a lot with relative ease.

    I would also add that most of my back/neck/shoulder/upper chest muscles are incredibly stiff. The reason I am asking about the Serratus Anterior in particular is that a teacher recently noticed that I can just about 'make contact' with the other muscles but not this one.


  4. #4
    Official BHUZzer micamica's Avatar
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    Re: Exercises for Armpits?

    I would suggest seeing a good bodyworker-could be that you have some muscles that are "locked up", from years of posture habits. Actually, it could be muscles in a very different part of the body that are causing this problem. (Turns out muscles in my neck were giving my carpal tunnel symptoms a couple of months ago). A knowledgeable bodyworker should be able to help you determine the source of the problem, and help you determine what stretches and excercises would be most helpful.
    Nikki


  5. #5
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Exercises for Armpits?

    I can't think of anything that you're probably not already doing in yoga (though Ashtanga's not my specialty). I would think cobra, locust, gomukasana etc. would loosen up your shoulders nicely (sure did mine!) and that side plank in particular would be good for your serratus, if you do it with conscious lifting & firming through the side of the torso.

    Can you talk to your yoga teacher about your specific issue? Maybe even set up a single private lesson to have him/her help you come up with a personalized practice you could follow through on at home?


  6. #6
    Mega BHUZzer kashmir's Avatar
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    Re: Exercises for Armpits?

    Get someone who knows such things to look you over - sports or rehab physio for instance.

    If you have a friend or someone you can rely on, start by looking at how do your shoulder blades lie on your ribs? If they wing then strengthening the muscles between them will help maintain shoulder position - and effectively improve flexibility. Also look at how they can maintain alignment - on all fours position them correctly then move your weight forward and back ie from |-| to /-/ and \-\ (the- is your back staying parallel to the floor :) )

    Also look at your thoracic mobility. Face down on the floor chin on floor, arms outstretched in front of you, thumbs together. How far can you lift your hands off the floor (with a straight line from fingers to arm pit). Should be about to get about 150mm (6"). If it's less look at wedging your thoracic spine ie lying on your back, place something 1"-3" high on either side of your spine (I started with two tennis balls taped together, but now also own the torturer's wedge). Lie on it at each vertebra for a few minutes. To get the most out of it arms at right angles to the elbow then right angles again - like you are surrendering)

    There is a similar stretch/strengthening exercise you can do against a wall (hands up and holding the shoulder blades down) for shoulder positioning.

    Also, consider massage as a way of lossening up tight muscles (won't work on the thoracic spine)


  7. #7
    Ultimate BHUZzer kina's Avatar
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    Re: Exercises for Armpits?

    so, I have no further suggestions give that Lauren and Kashmir did a great job with suggestions.

    For purposes of clarification, the reason I asked the question is that if you are stiff in one area, your probably stiff in others, i have trouble with my pectorals and consequently my neck is stiff and sore, so i have to actively stretch my pecs to keep from being in pain. The tightness of the pects are causing other muscles to work harder to maintain (or not) alignment.
    - A deeply desired goal gives context to present experience... M. Stanton Jones

    -Truth is one, paths are many. Sivananda.

    Jemileh's Blog


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