Ballroom Dance > Lumpy Shoulders

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by DanceMentor, Nov 7, 2013.

  1. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    One of my weak areas is my shoulder position. Often my shoulders are too far forward. So a couple of questions related to that.
    1. Any yoga or other exercises you do to train the shoulders?
    2. Anything that will make the shoulders smaller or less lumpy? :) (I have big shoulders)
  2. Dancing Irishman

    Dancing Irishman Well-Known Member

    Ballet, Modern, and Jazz classes were all extremely helpful for me in this regard. The emphasis on utilizing the muscles of the back and core to move the arms carries over well into ballroom, as does the practice in articulating a particular body part without distorting the position of another.
  3. caw

    caw Active Member

    If your shoulders are too far forward, they are probably being pulled by your pecs (pectorals major probably more than pectorals minor). That muscle pretty much runs between your right nipple and your right arm pit (and left and left).

    You can find great examples of pec stretches at this website. If you don't like that website, you can just google it.

    Additionally, you should strengthen the opposite muscles to pull the shoulders back. There are many muscles that work together to pull the shoulders back, but a good way to strengthen them is to do a seated row, with the modification of pulling your elbows out to the side, as in dance frame. You can find examples of that exercise on youtube.
    If you are interested in tools to help you, the yamuna ball is really great, and helps loosen up muscles that you wouldn't normally be able to stretch. It usually comes with a DVD.If you are interested in classes, yes, yoga will help. So will pilates, and gyrotonics if you're lucky enough to have a studio around you.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2013
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  4. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Rolfing would fit into my own equation for correcting anything structural, regardless of what else I brought into the mix.

    Have you ever explored that, DM?
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  5. latingal

    latingal Well-Known Member

    I too have had to work on the "rolled forward" shoulder position. IMO, it can make the difference of a good dancer and a great dancer to have impeccable posture as you dance when your technique gets to a certain point.

    By lumpy do you mean that your upper trapezoids are prominent? I have this problem too.

    In my case, I found that the alignment of my upper body was off. My center of levity was too far back and hidden or caved in, my shoulders and traps looked prominent and made my dancing look "muddy" and closed for want of a better term.

    I had to retrain my body to be in better alignment; it entailed "lowering my shoulders" NOT by using my shoulder muscles - but instead attaching the lower part of my lats (near the points of my scapulas) to my lower back (some teachers call this connecting your back or keeping your shoulder blades flat on your back). I had to strengthen my rhomboids through repeated repetitions of this good posture. I also had to remember to slightly activate the intercostalis and anterior serratum muscles to prop my levity center on top of the strength of my core and open up my chest area (or "float" my ribs).

    No classes or exercises needed, just mindfulness in everyday activities until it became somewhat automatic.

    And p.s. I have very large, prominent shoulders also.
  6. caw

    caw Active Member

    That's a very good point. If your shoulders are forward without you realizing it, your body has gotten used to it. Even if you have strong muscles to pull them back and loose muscles not pulling them forward, your body will be most comfortable where it has been all its life. That's why mindfulness in every day activities, as latingal puts it, is extremely important in rebuilding the neuromuscular pathways.
    I highly agree - my stepmother is a rolfer, and if you are lucky enough to have a good one near you, it can change your entire body in ways you never though possible.
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  7. ballroomdancertoo

    ballroomdancertoo Well-Known Member

    rolfing=pain how do you guys do it.
  8. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    This. Otherwise known as the 'aha' moment that fixed my topline... still working on being able to do it without thinking about it, but lots of focused effort on posture - while dancing, walking, taking the bus, etc. - has helped.
  9. caw

    caw Active Member

    Untrue. All rolfers should respect your pain limitations, and a good rolfer knows that it is often disadvantageous to go so hard that it causes pain, because that causes muscles to inadvertently tense up.
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  10. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    I'm going to have to study this but I feel like this has been somewhat my strategy so far. I have been working on keeping my shoulders down and back more by using the lats, somewhat bringing them closer to the lower back, and bringing my scapulas flatter and maybe a little closer together too. And yes, absolutely I have to do this in my everyday activities outside of dancing to be able to maintain this.

    I have not tried rolfing, but I may look into it.
  11. dancelvr

    dancelvr Well-Known Member

    I totally have the same problem with my shoulders. I work for 10 hours a day in a somewhat hunched-shoulder position, and sleep that way as well. I've been trying to correct my posture daily, with pulling my shoulders down and back during whatever activity or attitude in which I find myself. Hopefully, this will eventually reap some rewards. I'm also considering some hot yoga.
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  12. pruthe

    pruthe Member

    Clasp interlocked fingers with arms behind back and pull down. Then release and try to maintain shoulder position. That's what my teacher told me to practice doing.
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  13. Dancing Irishman

    Dancing Irishman Well-Known Member

    Another thing that's really helped my posture has been working to release/stretch the sternum joint. Mine was a little (actually very) tight and as a result it pulled my shoulders slightly forward no matter how hard I tried.
  14. latingal

    latingal Well-Known Member

    The key for me was realizing I couldn't really control and keep my shoulders down from the muscles at and around the shoulders. As my pro stated in so many words - connect the bottom of your shoulder blades straight down to your butt and keep them there (and yes you can still twist!).
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  15. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Not in my experience. I understand the culture around this amongst practitioners tended to change. Though sometimes it requires a bit of...purposeful...breathing. :)
  16. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    That's the visualization I use when I'm working on this, as well.
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  17. Dr Dance

    Dr Dance Well-Known Member


    Hmm... Too round.
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  18. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    As well as Rolfing and Gyrotonic, Yamuna Body Rolling has been effective in helping me to open and widen.
    yamunabodyrolling dot com
    gyrotonic dot com
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  19. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

  20. CCdance

    CCdance Active Member

    I had what I called 'nosy shoulder' lol it goes up when I rotate my body or whenever it's not needed ugh so one of coach said to me pretty much the same thing, be mindful not just on the dance floor, but off the floor as well to train your mind and body to be more centered and grounded....and I Yoga or any stretching activity definitely helps, just gotta give it some time
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