Roskopf in the Box – The Happy Mapping of Arms Part 2

Last month we began talking about the structure of the arm and where the 1st joint of the arm is. This month we are going to shed a bit of light on the 2nd joint of the arm…the Glenohumeral Joint or what most people call the Shoulder joint. 
The second arm joint, the joint of the upper arm with the shoulder blade, must be mapped correctly in order to completely free the muscles of your back. See how nicely it lines up with the weight bearing part of the vertebrae? Here we are up against not only the ubiquitous faulty map but a major bit of cultural conditioning—the posture thing. The P-word. A central tenet of the posture dogma is “get your shoulders back,” or the harsher version, “Get those shoulders back.” I sometimes want to cry when I see someone who has obeyed the command for decades, always hurting between his shoulder blades, never feeling a free movement of the arms. 

Shoulders don’t belong back. Just like they don’t belong up, down or forward. The second arm joint is designed to balance at the very center laterally. Neither forward, nor back, but just balanced at center. Shoulders back makes people miserable. It is dangerous to attempt to achieve an opening in front at the expense of closing in back. Some people are so used to narrowing in back that they don’t even notice the tightening anymore. If you correctly map the 1st and 2nd joints of the arm and look for a sense of balance and ease rather than for placement of posture or openness, you will have a clarity about the widening of the back, which allows the arm structure to ease into balance. 

To contact Rich, either give him a call at

503-939-2524 or email him at 

Conable, Barbara, and William Conable. How to Learn the Alexander Technique: A Manual for Students. Portland, OR: Andover, 1995. Print.