Hello beautiful people!
Today I’m going to keep it short, I just learned this over the weekend and I’m really excited to share it with you!
This weekend marks the first weekend that I’ve ever taught Headstand. It’s one of the more dangerous yoga poses due to the compression of the Cervical spine and given our forward-head-internally-rotated-shoulder culture, it’s not posturally accessible to a lot of people. Hence my hesitance, but I did a TON of research on how to teach it correctly and boy did I learn a bunch of cool stuff. The by far coolest thing was how to unlock all the hidden power and stability you have in your forearms!
So pick your head up from hunching over your phone/computer and let’s get a knowledge quicky on forearms and shoulder stability!
Beauty in Simplicity
First off, thank you Ray Long for breaking down Headstand so beautifully in your Anatomy For Arm Balances and Inversions book. That’s where this little tip comes!
The goal here is to balance on your elbows, forearms, and hands, and only have a dollop of pressure on the head. That’s what keeps the neck safe! In order to accomplish this, the shoulders now need to be firm, weight bearing structures like hips. Which is usually accomplished quite easily with the cue “draw your shoulders away from your ears.” Plus, the elbows and forearms need to be stable to help generate lift.
So how do we get the forearms, hands, and even the shoulders extra firm?
It’s so simple, you press into your index, pointer, finger and then your pinky finger.
Try it real quick! Plant your palm flat on a surface, if you can try to get your forearm flat as well. Now press into your index finger, then press into your pinky finger.
Did you feel that all the way up into your shoulder!
Alright, now you’re wondering, what kind of magic did I just unlock in my arm? Before you go running head first into the 9 3/4th platform in an attempt to get to Hogwarts, know that it wasn’t magic per se. Just some really dope anatomy.
What you just did was activate the Pronators and Supinators of your forearms.
Supination: Palms face forward; Pronation: Palms face behind you (in anatomical position)
I like to remember it as “Supination is like reaching your arms out for a cup of soup”
- By “Pressing into your Index finger” you activate the Pronators
- By “Pressing into your Pinky finger” you co-activate the Supinators
In addition to all those cool muscles in your forearms, this cue activates the lesser known action of the bicep, which is Supination. (See it in yourself, with your elbow bent, palm towards the sky, try to bring your thumb out further. You’ll see and feel your bicep activate. That’s where that added extra bit of shoulder stability comes!
I know what you’re thinking, this guys a nerd, how does this info apply to real life?
Just about anytime your hands or forearms are on the ground, this info becomes very relevant. So push-ups, planks, chatarangas, arm balances, scrubbing the floor, etc! Obviously you’ll feel it more when the elbows are bent in with forearms on the floor, but even with the arms straight you can benefit from the stability from activating these muscles.
If these muscles are active and firm your shoulder is much more capable of bearing weight. In case you didn’t know, your shoulders and arms are mainly intended to bring food towards your face. Hips and legs, those guys are to support your weight against gravity. When we flip that without proper stability and awareness, that’s how we mess up our shoulders.
Try that out next time your hand or forearm is on the mat, or ground. It’s super simple, all you have to do is press into your index finger, then your pinky finger.
Tap into your hidden anatomical power!
Have a beautiful and empowering rest of your day!
- Long, Ray “Anatomy for Arm Balances and Inversions” Bandha Yoga Publications Plattsburg, NY 2010.