From Your Desk to the Trail: A Simple Way to Release Your Shoulders and Boost Your Breath

From Your Desk to the Trail: A Simple Way to Release Your Shoulders and Boost Your Breath

  • By Susannah Steers
  • April 9, 2014

Have you felt this before?  You’ve had a long day at work, and you’ve been itching to get out for a run. Finally, you finish whatever you were working on at your desk, and it’s time to head home. You lace up your runners, make your way to your favourite trail, and head out into the wild.  Ahhh… peace.

It takes a little while to shake out the kinks of the day. One foot in front of the other. Your joints grump and groan a little – but before too long, you hit your stride. Things start to feel a little looser, the movement a little smoother. You push yourself, just enough – and it feels great.

But lately you’ve been noticing that when your push yourself, your breath is not as free as you’d like it to be. And by the time you’ve finished your run, you realize your shoulders are really tight and maybe even a little sore. What gives?
Your movement patterns… that’s what.Your brain organizes your movement into patterns. And each pattern determines the “firing order” for your muscles.

So why should you care? Your most dominant  patterns are based on the things that you do most often. If you’ve spent most of your week hunched over a computer, the predominant patterning in your body revolves around supporting you in that sitting position at your desk.  The muscles that are fired up and working – are sitting at the computer muscles. That patterning is not ideal for supporting you when you bound out onto the trail hoping for a great run.

Help is at hand! It may sound silly, but before you hit the pavement, take a few moments to re-organize your structure to succeed in an upright position.   Feel your feet into the ground, and extend the crown of your head to the ceiling. Allow your vertebrae to float upward like corks on a rising tide.   

And then – let’s deal with those shoulders! Imagine a small helium balloon under each one of your armpits – at the back of the armpit, just in front of the shoulder blade. Allow your imaginary helium balloon to inflate  a little, to support the weight of your shoulder girdle. Allow the back of your upper arm bone to melt toward the floor. Allow your shoulder blades to float on your back, a little like butterfly wings. Feel the length of your neck, and allow the back of the arms to drip toward the floor.

When you allow your shoulders to float, and find the length of your neck – not only do you release your shoulder girdle, you free up the thorax so you can breathe more efficiently!  You’re more relaxed, so you’re saving energy – enabling  you to run better, for longer!  When you feel tension creeping back into your shoulders, dropping them forward, simply re-establish the image of the helium balloons. Every time. At first, maintaining this awareness as you run may feel like mental gymnastics.But it will get easier to do with every run. And gradually you’ll find that your shoulders can relax while you run. You’ll feel more ease and get better results! 

How do you set yourself up for a run or other physical activities after spending a day at your desk? I’d love to hear what works for you. Leave me a message in the comment area below! And if you want to learn more – check out the worshops page for courses that will help you find your best moving body!

Tricia - April 13, 2014

Helium balloons… great idea! I always love the way you explain things. Thank you for making it so easy. Just reading your posts gives me better posture and I feel less tension. I will try this out before I practice my singing and before I go on my daily walk. Thank you!

    Susannah Steers - June 7, 2014

    Glad you like the image Tricia! A little float in the thorax & shoulder girdle goes a long way toward creating ease. I hope you found it useful! 🙂

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