Are you unable to do a pullup? Does your front rack kinda suck? Do push-ups hurt your shoulders? Do overhead squats end up on the ground? Are your shoulders always tiiiiiiiiiiightuh? I might be able to shed some light on the situation.
The next couple of months I am going to go into a bit of detail about the proper function, structure and size of the arm. I am going to use the bodywork technique, Body mapping as the platform to help us out.
The body map idea is simple and profound. You have a map of your body in your brain and it is easy to gain access to. If I say, “Where are your hip joints?” or “Where does your arm connect to your structure?” I will always get an answer. Sometimes the answer is accurate, sometimes it’s a little off and sometimes it’s not even close. In any case we always move according to how we think we are structured. When there is conflict between the map and the reality, the map will always win in movement. Always. It’s inevitable because the map is what shapes our experience but we can change it with some conscious effort. I have found that the reason a lot of people have chronic tension in their shoulders and upper back it often due to an inaccurate body map. When we correct these mismappings, then movements that involve the arms become easier, you get stronger and will carry less tension. Sound good?
<<<<The whole arm includes the scapula and collarbone.
I am breaking the arm up into several bite-sized pieces over the next few months in order to cover it properly and allow ample time for digestion and assimilation of the information.
An arm includes a collarbone, a shoulder blade, an upper arm bone, two lower arm bones, a wrist, and a hand. The collarbone and shoulder blade are of importance here, because their inclusion in the arm means there are four arm joints, not three as many people assume.
The only place that the arm structure joins the torso at a joint is where the collarbone meets the sternum. At that joint the movements that are available, are raising the shoulders or bringing the shoulders forward or pulling the shoulders back or dropping them.
A correctly mapped arm and an incorrectly mapped arm. >>>>>> Which one do you have?
If you place your fingers along your collarbone near the sternum and make those movements you will see what I mean. The collarbone is moving in relation to the sternum. The action at that joint can be clearly felt because the collarbone lies just under the skin. If you place your fingertips on the collarbone near the end where it joins the shoulder blade and do the movements of raising your shoulders, bringing your shoulders forward, dropping your shoulders pulling your shoulders back, you will find your fingertips moving with the collarbone in swoopy circles. If you then place your fingertips on your upper shoulder blade as you do those movements you will learn how much the shoulder blade moves, and how good it feels to let it move. The accurate mapping of the joint of the collarbone with the sternum is critical for free upper torso and arm movement. If that joint is not mapped, it is not used. It is held rigid and does not contribute its share of movement when it is needed, as in pullups, pushups, overhead presses, rowing, wallballs…basically any movement that involves the arms. This forces a disproportionate amount of movement onto the second arm joint, the joint of the upper arm with the shoulder blade. That disproportion is a source of strain in activities that require repetitive use of all four arm joints.
Do you want to have smoother moving, stronger, mobile arms and be able to do mad pullups and overhead presses? Start by finding that joint where the collarbone meets the sternum. It’s called the sternoclavicular joint. Explore the movements from the paragraph above often throughout the day. When you wake up, when you shower, when warming up before a WOD. Whenever you think about it. It is a crucial piece in moving your arms efficiently. Remember, the arms begin at the sternum, not the shoulder.
If you have any questions about what the heck I am talking about, grab me when you see me at the box. I love showing people who are interested in moving more efficiently. Next month we will cover the second joint of the arm. Where it belongs in relation to the side of the body and it’s role in what’s called humeroscapular rhythm. Get excited about this one!
To contact Rich, either give him a call at
503-939-2524 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.