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Movement Connections

May 2023: Shoulders

 “Carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.” It’s a powerful phrase.

The trapezius muscle, the big muscle on top of our shoulder girdle, is innervated directly by the limbic system, what we call our lizard brain. This means the muscle group is responding directly to our experiences of stress, danger, and sociality. No wonder this is where the world gets carried.

So many of us try to ‘fix’ shoulder tension by shoving our shoulders down. But the issue is not their location, up towards your ears or down towards the floor. Shoving them down is just responding to tension with tension.

There’s something else here – an invitation to notice tension, to notice stress, in a deeply embodied way. It’s in our tissues, in our muscles, in our structures. In somatics, we find that this kind of tension rarely releases unless we meet it, and understand that it is there for a reason. When we work with it, we often inspire other options for holding our selves.

Try giving the muscles of your shoulders a gentle squeeze while you take a deep breath. Try moving them in big juicy circles… does anything start to change?

It might not be big shifts, but even the ability to notice and affirm subtle shifts is a big deal in the adjusting of postural patterns. What if you could approach postural patterns like shoulder tension as a place to slow down and understand yourself more, instead of a place to fix with a quick intervention?