Movement Mastery: Shoulder, Rib, and Head Differentiation

March 25, 2024 ◊ By Jane Kluttz ◊ Awareness

In the realm of movement, mastering the intricate coordination of the body is akin to conducting a symphony of fluidity and grace. One of the fundamental yet often overlooked aspects of this mastery lies in the ability to differentiate movement between the shoulders, rib cage, and head. In this blog post, we delve into the art of shoulder, rib, and head differentiation, exploring its significance, techniques, and the profound impact it can have on our physical expression and well-being.

Understanding the Significance:

Imagine the shoulders, rib cage, and head as three distinct dancers on a stage, each with its own role to play in the choreography of movement. Shoulder differentiation allows for precise control and articulation, enabling graceful gestures and fluid transitions. Meanwhile, rib cage mobility facilitates deep breathing, spinal flexibility, and dynamic core engagement. Lastly, head differentiation adds nuance and expression, enhancing proprioception and spatial awareness. (Proprioception - is the sense which allows perception of the location, movement, and action of parts of the body relative to each other)

Techniques for Mastery:

• Shoulder Awareness

Imagine the three bones that make up your shoulder…Collar bone (aka clavicle) Upper arm bone (aka humerus) and your shoulder blade (aka scapula). Touch them as you move your shoulder around. Can you notice: are they all moving in fluid unity like synchronized swimmers? Or do you feel clunking, popping and jerking happening?

Never fear, shoulder movement can be brought back into balance with some gentle movement, attention to detail and learning to recognize the gifts of ‘less pain more gain’ as a mindset.

Let’s begin by standing or sitting comfortably and gently roll your shoulders backward and forward, feeling your shoulder blades move away and toward your spine. Then move shoulders up and down, sense your shoulder blades sliding gracefully along your back.

For even more precision in your sensory experience, practice isolating one shoulder at a time, moving it forward, backward, up, and down while keeping the opposite shoulder relaxed and maintaining the flow of your breath. Stay within a range of ease, in other words, do less than you can. This helps cultivate awareness and choice in shoulder movement.

• Rib Cage Expansion

Place your hands on your rib cage and take a deep breath in, consciously expanding the rib cage outward in all directions (Left, Right, Forward, Backward, Up, Down like a balloon inflating). As you exhale, visualize drawing the ribs inward, like a balloon deflating. Repeat this breath with awareness, focusing on expanding and contracting the rib cage with each inhale and exhale, fostering greater flexibility and resilience.

• Head Articulation

First, sit or stand tall with a relaxed neck and gently tilt your head to one side, feeling how one side of your neck gets long and the other short. Return to the center and repeat on the other side. What differences do you notice in the range of ease? Shoulder involvement? Rib? Pelvis?
Do you sense any shift of weight in your seat if sitting? In your feet if standing?

Next, nod your head forward and backward, exploring the full range of ease. What do you notice happens in your mid back? Your pelvis? Do you notice weight shift in your seat if sitting? In your feet if standing? If yes is it dramatic or subtle?

Finally, turn your head from side to side, slowly, gently, paying attention to any areas of tension and recognizing choice points. Do you push into or through pain? What do you notice about your eyes? Are they free to move around freely as your head moves?

The Impact on Physical Expression:

As we refine our ability to differentiate movement between the shoulders, rib cage, and head, we unlock a world of possibilities for creative expression and enhanced functionality. Whether in dance, athletics, or everyday activities, this heightened awareness and ability to choose enables us to move with greater precision, efficiency, and grace.

Moreover, by cultivating a deeper connection to our bodies, we foster a sense of mindfulness and embodiment that transcends the physical realm, enriching our overall well-being. Through dedicated practice and mindful awareness, we can unlock the full potential of our bodies, embracing the beauty and complexity of movement in all its forms.

So, let us embark on this journey with curiosity and dedication, knowing that with each step forward, we come closer to realizing our true potential as movers and creators of our own symphony of motion.

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