Yoga for Posture – 12 – Rotator Cuff Curls

Okay, we’ve done the primary back muscles with Baby Cobra. We’ve done the butt muscles with Bridge. We’ve gone twice ‘round on the core with Dead Bug and some tougher variations on Dead Bug.

Then, we began to stretch with Dragon Lunge, and continued with Downward Dog, Squatted Downward Dog and moved on to Puppy to decompress the spine. Then we stretched your pectoral muscles with Scorpion Twists.

The hard stuff began with plank push ups, and now it gets worse. I called these rotator cuff curls because, well, I didn’t really know what else to call them.

You see, the basic problems of poor posture are:

  1. Weak core muscles
  2. Tight chest (pectoral) muscles
  • Weak upper back and shoulder muscles

In order to improve your posture, you need to address all three of these. We started with the core, moved on to stretching the chest and now we need to mobilise and strengthen the muscles of the upper back and rotator cuffs. If you are anything like me, these exercises are going to suck, big time, because we gave our shoulders’ jobs to our back muscles, so we need to (in the words of my posture guru and yoga teacher) “Give your shoulders their job back.”

So, without further ado, let’s start strengthening those rotator cuff muscles.

Begin in table top position, with a neutral spine. Wait. Have I done a lesson on neutral spine? I can’t recall…I’ll add it to the list.

So, to strengthen the back rotator cuffs:

  • Begin in table top position:
    • On hands and knees, arms and thighs straight up and down. Lower back relaxed but neither arched up, nor curled down (we’re not doing cat/cow).
  • Pick a side and bend that elbow 90°, palm up
  • Lift that elbow up, rotating directly out from the body.
  • Keep your upper arm and elbow bent at 90°, watching the palm of that hand helps with this
  • Rotate as far as you can, and no farther

I said this particular exercise really sucks. If you are anything like me, your first time doing this is going to be hard. Your arm won’t move very far, it will hurt like hell, you’ll probably start to sweat, maybe even shake. Your back will try to get in on the action because, well, you gave your shoulders’ job to it. Don’t let it. Accept the suckage and make your shoulder do the work.

Give your shoulders their jobs back. As you do scorpion twists to stretch in the front, do straight arm push ups to return strength and mobility between the shoulder blades. Then do these awful rotator cuff curls to return strength to the cuffs, so they can take their jobs back.

I’ve tried not to sugar coat this exercise. When I began doing it, it royally sucked. If your posture isn’t as bad as mine got, good on you, it won’t suck as much. But if you really want to improve your posture, you need to fix your shoulders, and give them their jobs back.