Picture yourself in front of your computer, intensely trying to read fine print. The material is challenging and you are cringing your neck to see better. This rounded forward posture requires teamwork between your traps and serratus muscles and their antagonists, the pecs and levator scapulae. As the back side further stretches, the chest muscles shorten. Staying in a shortened position for so long provides a message to the back side. “Hey! You guys are going to be here a while. You might as well put your emergency brakes on and go take a rest. I don’t think you’ll be needed for awhile”. And so, the back side becomes stuck. There is no blood flow. There IS stagnation. Meanwhile, it’s been 2 hours and the front side is finally ready for a break. When the pecs attempt to elongate again, they face a huge resistance. Try driving your car with the emergency brakes on. Hah!
Reversing this imbalance requires work on both sides. Before we can stretch out the front side, you’ve got to remove the brakes. More technically, we are defining the makings of a trigger point. Here’s an academic definition.
“A trigger point occurs when the normal sliding filament mechanism of a muscle fiber becomes disrupted due to metabolic stagnation at the motor endplate zone. The individual muscle fiber goes into contracture; the middle part of the fiber is hyper-contracted, irritable to touch and causes pain and many other symptoms, often far removed from the site of the trigger point.”
Compression is first needed to break up stagnation. Then begins the slow stretching in the pecs and levator scapulae.
What might lead to this great imbalance? In addition to prolonged poor posture, inefficient breathing can disrupt the balance. When we are stressed, we tend to overload our serratus muscles. These are the serrated, knife like muscles that lie over our ribs. There are anterior and posterior serratus muscles.
Asthma and anxiety greatly overload serratus muscles.
We will get into these other causes another time. For now, know this: your posture can precipitate pain far from where your poor posture lies. Awareness of proper alignment is critical every day. When you look in the mirror or see your profile, can you line up your shoulders over your hips and heels? When you lie down, does the back of your head easily lie flat on the ground? Do your shoulder blades lie flat?
Take a moment to give thanks for your greatest gift--YOU. Then, when you’re feeling lackadaisical about following your yoga practice, set your intention to follow through. Put your yoga sessions and classes on your calendar BEFORE you set up all your other appointments. Yes, doctor appointments are hard to come by. Your yoga practice might lessen how often you have to see your doctor again. Wouldn’t THAT be a nice way to show gratitude for your body?
Hope to see you THIS week. Do you have a friend or two? I do hope so. Have you invited them to join our yoga classes or private lessons? Let me know how I can help.