Pain-Free Arms & Shoulders: 3 Tips

ArmWavePhotostockRGBIf your arms or shoulders are tense or painful there are 3 mistakes you could be making without even knowing it.

Body misconceptions

Over the years, many of us pick up some erroneous ideas about how our bodies are put together. But we get in the habit of moving as if these wrong ideas ARE true, with tension and pain are the result.

Pam’s story

Pam had painful tension in her shoulders and arms and couldn’t figure out why. Neck and shoulder pain woke her up at night.

She needed to keep her elbows close to her sides when she rode her horse, but she developed a habit of forcing her shoulder blades together and holding her shoulders rigid. She started holding her breath without thinking and that made her upper body even more rigid.

On and off the horse, she was used to moving her arms from the the elbow joints, as if there were no other joints she could use. Things got more tense and painful. And it was a lot more work than necessary.

3 tips to move easier and feel better

ArmSkeletonNewRGBTip 1: Use your four arm joints

Like most of us, Pam thought her arms had 3 primary joints: the shoulder, the elbow and the wrist. Little did she know there is another important arm joint: where the collar bone meets the breast bone.

Find this joint by locating the hollow at the base of your neck. Hold a finger of your opposite hand there for reference and move your arm. Do you notice greater range of motion than when you think of this as your “top” arm joint?

Pam found much greater range of motion when she started using the collarbone/breastbone joint.

Tip 2: Your shoulder blades float along your back

Your shoulder blades are not attached to your back. The only place your arm is attached to your skeleton is at the collarbone/breast bone joint.

Knowing this allowed Pam to let her shoulders widen away from each other instead of habitually jamming them together. Over a series of lessons her shoulder blades moved apart by about 1 ½ inches. She began to breathe easier and her rib cage moved gently with each breath.

Tip 3: Let your fingertips lead

Instead of picking up your shoulder or elbow to move your arm, think of your fingertips leading the movement. This lets each arm joint come into action when it’s needed and not before.

When Pam remembered this during the day, she got a good night’s sleep at night and woke up feeling great.

More information

If you’d like to know more about how Alexander Technique can help your aches, pains or stiffness, call Emily at 503 505 4155 or email emily@thesupple

Photo courtesy of Photostock,

About Emily Clark

Feel free to use this article in your newsletter or on your website or blog. Just make sure to include the bio and link below at the end of the article.

Emily Clark, of, is an Alexander Technique Certified Instructor who teaches horseback riders of all disciplines to eliminate pain and improve their posture so they can ride as one every ride.

She’s worked with equestrians for over 11 years. She loves working with riders because they’re so passionate about what they do.

Comments & Feedback:

  1. Ingrid Weideman says:

    Hi Emily

    I’m an Alexander Technique teacher in Cape Town, South Africa. I found this page very useful, thanks! Just thought about it consistently while giving a lesson this evening.

    Ingrid Weideman

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