If there's one thing I've learned to love in working with athletes of all ages and abilities is to teach "joint-friendly" exercises that help alleviate pain from muscle imbalance and poor joint kinematics. I'd like to share a wonderful corrective exercise that helps reduce shoulder pain/restrictions and improve the ability of the scapula (shoulder blades to glide properly) with good arm mechanics. It's called the Snow Angel
A corrective exercise is important for anyone (athletes and desk jockey's alike) who wants to lower the risk of injury and chronic pain because it allows the individual to create a great training effect with minimal loading. The Snow Angel in a static back position (as seen above) is a perfect example - and performing it in conjunction with a well thought out self myofascial release (SMR) program affords some great benefits for your posture and function in terms of building mobility.
DISCLAIMER: First and foremost, please use the information in this video for educational purposes only. Do not diagnose or self-treat, and talk to your health-care provider BEFORE trying the exercise.
In this video you'll see the Snow Angel performed in a neutral bent knee with flat foot position which creates a bit more functional demand. If you have a huge amount of restrictions, I would advise that you begin in a Static Back (seen in the photo above). If the head is unable to rest on the floor comfortably, with the chin and nose poking upward toward the ceiling, roll up a bath towel and place it under the head to level it out with the shoulders. It is not unusual to need small pads (some as little as an inch of lift to six, which would require a yoga block for support) if you have an advanced case of Forward Head Posture.
It is VERY IMPORTANT to limit how far overhead you go with your arms. If you have to bend the elbows, overly flex the wrist or shrug the shoulders to assist the movement, it is better to stop. It can take days or weeks to get the shoulder though a pain-free range of motion, so give your body time to allow for improvements in range of motion occur over time.
In this next video you'll see the Snow Angel incorporated into an upper body mobility sequence done on a foam roller. This is one of my favorite sequences to do after a day of heavy exercise, or having to sit for prolonged periods of time. Again, use good judgement and speak with your health care provider or Corrective Exercise Specialist if this sequence is right for you. If you are new to Snow Angels, it may take some weeks to progress your mobility and posture to be able to load the body in this demand.
I hope you enjoyed this little gem of a corrective exercise. Give it a try and let me know what you think by posting a comment below or on my Facebook page. Feel free to forward and share it with someone who you think may benefit from it, and if you need help evaluating your posture and movement patterns and figuring out what combination of corrective exercises are right for you, please reach out to connect with me.
Stock Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
Head Photo Credit: Melissa Thome Photography
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