In the effort to correct a lifetime of poor posture, I have tried various exercises and stretches during the past few months. I have been more mindful of how I walk and stand and have tried to be straighter. Finally, I hit upon something that seems to work pretty well to correct my uneven shoulders, at least temporarily.
Here’s what I mean by “uneven shoulders”:
The left shoulder is quite a bit higher than the left, as you can see. It’s also rotated a bit forward and makes a bit of a hunching lump in the back:
A workshop recently on “somatic movement” offered to help, so I signed up. At the end of a one-hour session, here’s what my shoulders looked like:
Pretty even! Wow!
But I am a skeptical soul, so I figured I’d be back to normal the next day.
Still pretty good, right?
How about the next day?
And four days later, I was back to normal.
Still, that’s pretty good. I am interested enough to try somatics again.
The workshop started with everyone taking inventory of our bodies standing still and lying flat. If you just stand in front of a mirror, barefoot, and pay attention, you notice things. Maybe you’ll notice how your weight tends to sit a little heavier on one foot than the other, or maybe a bit toward the inside or outside of the foot, or back on the heel or forward on the toes. As you stand there, you may notice other things – one knee feels more fatigued than the other, or one hip seems to bear the load more than the other.
As you look in the mirror, you may notice things like my uneven shoulders. Or maybe uneven hips. Maybe one knee bends more, or you feel hunched over.
The same “inventory” works lying flat on the floor – you feel one hipbone more than the other, or your arms may splay differently. For example, because my high shoulder also is rotated a bit, when I lie flat on my back, my arm tends to twist with the back of my hand on the floor, while my other shoulder is better aligned, so my hand rests on the pinky side, more or less in a straight line. I also noticed that I can look further over my right shoulder than over my left.
We did a series of exercises where we stretched and twisted and reached. It was effortful, but not painful (for me anyway – people in the workshop had different abilities and fitness levels). Every so often we’d rest and take stock of how we felt different. If you’ve ever done Pilates or some other exercises where you take turns stretching or lengthening one side of the body, then another, you may have experienced this sensation. Each stretching exercise built on the next, so by the end of the session, we were doing some fairly complex moves.
We ended the workshop by standing in front of the mirror as we had at the beginning to take inventory again. Several people expressed “WOW” moments, including myself.
This is not some chiropractic hokum or new age feely-goody nonsense. It really seemed to work. The effect is temporary, because you’re meant to do these stretches every day and build on them over time, and I just did them once. After I am done with my grad school course (next week – not a moment too soon) I am going to sign up for a private consultation and get started on a regular regimen to see if it helps long-term.