Welcome, providers of eyelash extensions and other peeps of the world that need some upper body movement! How are your neck, shoulders and thoracic spine treating you? Maybe you sit at a desk, or hold on to your phone too much, or maybe both? If you’re anything like me, doing what you love – despite perfect postures – has taken a toll over time!
In my previous instalment, I addressed the lower hemisphere of the body. Now, let’s travel up. In this article, I’m going to provide you with some movements to explore, as well as a brief rundown of other practices you can incorporate into your lifestyle. Pilates has been a lifesaver for me, improving my posture, grace and every motion required in my life. These wonderful movements below derive from my pilates practice.
What You Will Need
For each of the following, you will need three to five spare minutes, and a foam roller. Make sure you have a roller that is 36 inches long, accommodating the length of the spine. Please keep in mind, usually gifs are much faster than the move is intended to be. Slow down to accommodate.
Opening Your Wings
This movement is a chest and shoulder opener.
The Set Up
- Lay with your spine long on the foam roller. Have your knees bent, feet directly under knees, tail bone at one end of the roller, and your occipital bone (the rounded part at the base of your skull) at the other end.
- Make sure the back of your neck is elongated (not arched back). Take a deep breath to weigh your pelvis, and drop your ribs to make sure you’re fully on the foam roller.
- Inhale and exhale, bringing your arms like pillars – straight-stacked in front of your shoulders. Ground your shoulders down into the back of your armpits.
- Inhale and exhale. Imagine you are moving through thick air. Open your arms up like wings until your hands are flat on the floor. Your body should now be in a T-shape.
- Inhale and exhale while keeping your collarbones wide and your shoulders tucked into the back of your armpits. Now, bring your hands back up to starting position.
Try this a few times with palms up, then try a few with palms down. Notice different sensations while moving through your range of motion, and don’t forget to breathe 😉
This movement is for pectoral opening, shoulder mobility and increased thoracic spine circulation. The setup is the same as above.
- Reach your arms above your head in a Y-shape all the way until the back of your hands reach the floor (notice which hand makes it there first, or if there are any imbalances from side to side).
- Now, imagine that your hands are 100 pound weights. Keep your hands heavy, remaining in contact with the floor.
- Drag your hands along the floor all the way down to your hips.
- Reverse the motion.
- Repeat both directions slowly. Breathe into any tightness you may experience in the chest and arms. Feel free to stop and explore any spots that are especially tight.
Try this a few times with palms up, then try a few with palms down. Notice different sensations while moving through your range of motion. Breathe deeply – your exhalation is your tool. Use deep, surrendering exhalations to release tension from your body.
This is the opposite motion of eyelashing. This one was way hard for me to film, guys! For the last couple of weeks, I have not been working this piece – and it shows! Illustration shows only mid-back movement, if you look closely. Do not worry if you too feel that this piece is challenging, it’s something we all need to focus on!
Be advised: Your brain can make you think your upper back is moving when, in fact, it’s just your neck flexing back. Take extra precaution to keep your neck elongated. This movement, when done correctly, is quite small. Work the range of motion that you have and it will eventually get bigger.
The Set Up
- Lay long on your belly on the foam roller. Place your arms and hands above your head in a V-shape.
- This move can be done sans foam roller by using a towel to slide along the floor.
- To protect your lower back, press your pubic bone down into the floor for the entire movement. This is very important. The whole time you need to be pressing the front of your pelvis into the floor!
- Start by activating your lats, pulling your shoulders down, making sure they are planted deeply into your back, into the back of your armpits.
- Once your shoulders are stable, use a full inhalation and exhalation to pull the foam roller toward you as you slowly lift your nose like you’re rolling a marble away.
- Then, continue to lift your sternum, coming up as far as your can.
- Take another deep inhalation, exhale to return to starting point. Repeat 8-12 times daily.
Getting Serious About Wellness and Healing
Outside of your daily movement practice, you may still want professional help for what your body needs. In my life, I’ve had no other choice than to develop a dream-team of experts on top of my own daily discipline of breathing, moving and eating well.
Keep in mind that money invested in experts and books is money invested in a healthy spine for many years to come. That really is priceless.
All of the methods to follow are great soft tissue partners to pilates and chiropractic care.
This is a method of eliminating the disruptions in the natural flow of energy pathways in your body. Acupuncture is great for instant relief of tension and stress. My body has always responded well to acupuncture with increased circulation that leads to significant muscular release and adjustments.
The name doesn’t quite do it justice. This is my favorite body work of them all! Defined as structural integration, this soft tissue manipulation results in myofascial tissue release. Rolfing is also known to improve posture, relieve chronic pain, and reduce stress. If you live in an area where you have access to a rolfer, I highly recommend!
Food is a big culprit in creating inflammation in the body and keeps us in pain cycles. Inflammatory foods lead to joint aches, tight muscles and connective tissue issues. A great book to look into, regarding this topic, is by one of my favorite teachers, Anthony William. It’s called, Life-Changing Foods.
More Useful Therapies
Some other practices that I highly recommend incorporating are:
- massage therapy
- infrared heat therapy – if you’re in LA, check out ShapeHouse, where you can watch Netflix while healing in their wraps
- cryotherapy (a method that uses cooling to reduce inflammation)
What systems have you implemented for your wellness? Have you tried any of these? Also, have you been doing the booty toning from my last series? By now, you should be seeing and feeling the results. Let me know all about it in the comments section below. I’ll try not to make it so long before my next visit, lash lovers 🙂 Let’s continue to build our community, and all heal together.