Importance of Shoulder Rotation/Linear Alignment for Lower Body Inch Loss
March 12, 2001
Every time I host a fitness event, I rediscover how important shoulder rotation/pronation is in achieving successful inch loss in the torso and lower body. Correct linear alignment of the shoulder with hip joint is vital. Last year I met one T-Tapper who previously attained her goal of weight loss, tight skin and new clothing size (and had maintained her new figure for nearly 6 months) only to have gained an inch through her waist, suddenly get "back fat" and see an increase of bulkiness in her thighs within a matter of weeks! Once we worked out together I immediately saw that her linear alignment of shoulder to hip had changed and that she wasn't keeping her butt tucked throughout the workout. Form is so important with the T-Tapp Total Workout – even just 3/8-inch difference of rotation/pronation of a joint will alter results, so I decided a newsletter was necessary to discuss how shoulder rotation with correct linear alignment is important for lower body inch loss. Pronation causes the shoulder joint to roll forward and makes the upper spinal column curve forward. As one ages this becomes more and more apparent and creates imbalance in muscle strength not only along the vertebrae and shoulder joints, but also in compression of internal organs (especially those with short torso bodies!).
Teenagers are notorious for slouching, especially those that are taller than their peers so this bad habit starts early in life and only gets worse with age. As a "new face developer" models were brought to me when they first entered the agency to learn catalogue technique, runway and editorial technique. What appears to be natural movement isn't – just try imitating a runway walk or a pose from a catalogue! One of the most important techniques I taught was proper shoulder rotation to create a "square shoulder" (illusionary shoulder pads) so that clothes would "hang" better on the body. You can easily learn this too and implement it daily while standing, walking or sitting. In other words, don't just do it when exercising!
First of all, look at your regular stance in a mirror. Depending on age, anatomical structure, past injuries, etc. most of you will notice a slight sloping from neck to shoulder. See how the palms of your hands face backward? Now assume the T-Tapp stance (toes forward, feet hip width apart and KLT) and do a couple of shoulder rolls backwards. Now repeat shoulder rolls, but with palms forward and fingers extended (like "jazz" hand). Feel the difference? See the immediate difference in the angle of your neck to shoulder? You should feel the muscles between your shoulder blades as well as your shoulder/pectoral muscles. Hold this position (don't move shoulder to elbow) and twist your wrists so that your palms face to center of your body until you only see the side of your hands (thumb and forefinger should make a "V"). Even though this may feel unnatural, it looks better (more feminine) and eventually you'll be able to do this without thought. Just practice.
Most important, maintaining correct shoulder rotation is an easy way to isometrically work your back and shoulder muscles throughout the day (which burns glucose) as well as your stomach! Your posture will improve and you'll prevent "back fat" from accumulating between shoulder blades and at base of neck (common in short torso women). The real trick is to apply this technique while sitting at a computer or while driving a car.
Now that you understand correct shoulder rotation, try to maintain it throughout the T-Tapp Total Workout along with linear alignment... especially during Plies, Balance Sequence, Thread the Needle, Hoe Downs and Organs in Place/Half Frog Sequence. During the Plie Sequence, arms should always "pull" behind the ear (keep butt tucked) with palms in fist facing to center of body at or behind shoulder joint (not in front of shoulder) with elbows pushing forward so that the fist and elbow are in perfect alignment with the shoulder joint AND the hip joint. Anytime you reach arms above the head, the wrists should twist so that the palms are facing forward... make sure that the elbows straighten and arms are BEHIND your ear (keep butt tucked!) so that your hands, shoulders and hip joints are in perfect alignment. Then during "in/out" sequence, your wrist should be directly above your elbow and your elbow should be in perfect alignment with your shoulder... when opening "out" make sure that you open ALL the way behind the ears. Most remember to keep the butt tucked with KLT going down with gravity, but it is even more important to tuck more and push KLT again right before coming UP against gravity!
During the Balance Sequence your shoulders should be rolled out, chest forward and butt tucked at all times. Outstretched arm should be tight with wrist, elbow and shoulder in perfect alignment. Don't forget to tuck the butt with each lateral leg raise! Also use the arm behind your back to "push" torso forward as you pull shoulders back for correct linear alignment of shoulder to hip.
During Thread the Needle your shoulders should be rolled out, chest forward and butt tucked at all times. Plus the upper body should be totally isolated from the lower body. Keep your shoulders "square" to front wall during entire movement sequence. Think to tighten the back muscles to hold spine and shoulders in proper alignment. It's not easy but it will make a BIG difference in inch loss. Don't forget to keep KLT with supportive leg AND tuck butt each time you lift knee upward (both in U-Swings and at end of Cross-Cross-Back-Lift).
Hoe Downs will become a whole new exercise when you concentrate on keeping the upper body isolated from the lower body and maintain correct shoulder roll out. When lifting the knee, make sure to keep the knee and ankle in perfect alignment and lift your knee in a straight line aiming at your shoulder (most common error is lifting the knee to center of body with foot slightly outward from knee). The upper body needs to stretch upward with shoulders back and chest forward. Tighten the tummy with a little butt tuck each and every time you lift the knee (concentrate on using the stomach muscles rather than the leg muscles as you lift knee).
Try doing Primary Back Stretch first thing in the morning, mid-afternoon and before bed. Primary Back Stretch "forces" correct linear alignment when both arms are behind your back and are "pumped". Another way to gain greater benefit from PBS is to push weight into your thumbs when going over to flat back position and pull elbows up toward the ceiling. Make sure to keep shoulder and hip joints in perfect parallel position (linear alignment) and keep the knees in KLT position for optimal results. Always maintain KLT position throughout PBS!
Last of all, during Organs in Place/Half Frog Sequence or during any of the floor movements in the Hit the Floor workout; make sure to keep your shoulders rolled out. This will keep your upper spine totally flat on the floor (reason why I have you put your hands on your rib cage instead of on the floor). Try this warm-up movement to achieve correct positioning: Lay on back with knees bent, hip width apart and toes forward. Reach above head with arms close to the floor with palms facing ceiling in a fist (be sure to tuck butt and keep lower spine flat on the floor). Inhale deeply as you reach above head (keep butt tucked!), then pull elbows to side of body keeping arms close to the floor and twisting wrist so that your palm faces towards center of body. Exhale as you pull. Inhale reach/exhale pull for 4 times. At end of each pull your shoulders should be touching the floor with wrist at top of shoulder as close to the floor as possible with elbow in perfect a W.
When shoulders roll forward, you inactivate muscle attachments on the shoulder joint and on the spinal column. Additionally if you allow your butt to release from tucked position, you inactivate the lower spinal muscle attachments as well hip attachments, which then creates imbalance between the shoulder and hip and stomach. Improper shoulder rotation and linear alignment not only lessens results... it can also cause a person to bulk or thicken in their waist, torso and/or upper thigh. So concentrate, concentrate... it is well worth the results. Always remember to tuck butt with KLT and keep those shoulders rolled out and back! Eventually it will become second nature!
Good luck and Best wishes,