This simple exercise is excellent to help you figure out when and to what extent you are unconsciously raising your shoulders.
Raising your shoulders, while mostly a habit we are unaware of, can really complicate repetitive strain injuries of all kinds. The major nerve bundles that serve the hands and arms begin in the neck and shoulder area of the body. Raising your shoulders, even unconsciously, can create excessive squeezing and irritation for the nerves. This, in time, leads to nerves that send tingling and numbness signals down to your elbows, hands, fingers and thumbs.
Raising your shoulders unnecessarily can also create problems even if you do not have numbness and tingling symptoms. The connective tissues that allow for the free and easy movement of the hands and arms begin in the torso. When you raise your shoulders habitually, your body perceives this habit as a strain and tries to protect the body by tightening and restricting the connective tissues as they travel down your arms and into your hands. This can give you symptoms of weakness, pain, restriction, and loss of range of motion in the joints (they don’t move as freely as they used to).
The Tape Trick is a very simple and low cost way to find out if you are unconsciously raising your shoulders and perpetually irritating the nerves, muscles and connective tissues of your neck, shoulders and arms. Here’s how to do it:
Go to the pharmacy and purchase a roll of non-stretchy bandage tape that is 1/2 inch in width. Avoid paper tape as it tears too easily. Good, old fashioned bandage tape that is found on the metal rolls is a great one to choose. Tear off a piece that is 12 inches long.
Find A Friend To Help You.
The Tape Trick works best if you do it on one shoulder at a time. Pick the side of your body that has the most severe symptoms of repetitive strain injury. If you can’t tell which side is worse, then pick the side that is your more dominant side. For right handers, that would be your right side.
Have your friend stand next to you, looking at your side. Remove your shirt; and ladies, it is very important to slip your bra strap off of your shoulder. Make sure that your shoulders are down and relaxed and that you are looking straight ahead. Have your friend apply the tape to your shoulder, in the same direction that a bra strap would go, with half of the tape extending to the front onto your chest, and the other half extending down your back on the back of your shoulder. For ladies it is important that the tape is not applied in the same area where your bra strap lies, simply because your body has become somewhat unconscious to feeling pressure in that spot. Instead, have your friend apply the tape about 1/2 inch closer to your neck.
Now your job is to get dressed and go about your normal daily activities. If you raise your shoulders at all, the tape will pull on your skin, alerting you to the fact that you are raising your shoulders. It is important to try to recognize when and under what circumstances you are habitually raising your shoulders. By recognizing when you are engaging in this unconscious activity, you can choose to change it, and relieve your body of untold amounts of unnecessary strain and compression.
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