An exercise to maintain a healthy posture and good shoulder function

The shoulder is a complex joint with a great range of movement. The complexity comes from controlling multiple planes of movement; the upper arm bone moves on the shoulder blade in many directions and on top of that you have the movement between the shoulder blade and the collarbone and ribcage. This complexity leaves the area prone to injuries and poor function. One of the most common issues are for the shoulders to be a bit “sticky” in a hunch forward and rolled-in posture. This posture tends to cause shoulder impingement syndrome, where the Sub-acromion Bursa and Supraspinatus gets impinged with overhead movements with the arms. 

In many cases, chiropractic care can re-set the movement pattern and normalize the range of movement of the shoulder blade. The YWLT exercise is a good way re-inforce this improved movement after being adjusted so that you can maintain the improved shoulder mechanics for longer.

The letters Y-W-L-T (You – Will – Like – These!) indicates the alphabetical letter simulation/positions that your arms form with your torso during the exercise. Below is a description of how to do the exercise:

Stand shoulder with apart with your feet and focus on rotating the heals together by contracting the Gluts (this helps the pelvis to rotate into a neutral position). Then brace your core (like you would if someone was about to punch you in the stomach). Position your gravity centred more on the heal of your feet and keep a tall retracted “chin-in” in your head posture. Then maintain this spinal posture while performing the following arm movements:

Y) Reach up with both your arms into a Y-shaped position and gently drive your arms back as far as they go. 

W) From there pull both elbows down towards your back pockets of your pants so that your arms form a W-shape, and your shoulder blades pinch together. 

L) Then continue down with your elbows into your side and externally rotate your upper arms as far as they go (L-position). You can internally and externally rotate the arms a couple of times in this position before proceeding.

T) Finally reach out with both your arms to the sides as to form a T-shape. If you lead the arm movement with the palms of your hand and look up at the end of the movement (you might get a light nerve stretch in this position).

Repeat this sequence 4-8 times.

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