I’ve been increasingly aware of how the shoulder girdle gets locked down into the lid of the thoracic region, limiting range of motion and preventing some of us from getting the free-moving arms we need to leverage backbends. The usual suspect at the heart of this situation is the latissimus dorsi and its associated fibres. Shortened, chronically contracted lats can cinch the shoulder girdle down tightly onto the rib age, compromising range of motion in the thoracic ring units, ultimately leading to that “plank of wood” sensation that plagues so many of us in backbending and twists.
My husband, Simon, is in the early stages of working through tightness that has arisen over a lifetime of not stretching. You can see from these images what we are addressing in this series of restorative techniques designed to get his range of motion opened up.
This morning I got the chair out of the Iyengar closet and used it to work my own ST-axis, then worked with a couple of students using this method to help get them out of the lower back and more connected to healthy (externally-rotated) shoulder flexion to work thoracic extension. Check out Jessica wrapping her lats and going deep into the breath to make more space. It is evident how much more range Jessica has in this area when compared to Simon, so she is able to reach a little further into the extension to catch the chair legs. Kapotasana, anyone?