Turi

Shoulder Pain

8 posts in this topic

I have recently been experiencing increasing pain in especially my right shoulder. 

Coincidentally I read something about chaturangas being very challenging for the shoulder and that you should always be very careful not to lower beneath the height of your shoulder. I have not been aware of that. 

I am skipping all chaturangas for the time being to see if that helps and so far, it seems to alleviate the pain somewhat. 

What are your experiences with this? Any one else with the same experience? 

 

Laura likes this

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Good questions, I also wondered about the proper height for chaturanga.  One teacher also told me not to dip beneath the height of my shoulder for chaturanga and warned that it can injure the rotator cuff.

 

However, in other fitness classes that do tricep push ups, one is instructed to go all the way to the ground.  Lowering to the ground uses the chest muscles more when pushing back up.  I had heard tricep push up also called "yoga push up", so I thought they were interchangeable before, but now I am unsure of the differences.

 

After having my husband watch me (when I asked him this same question about height!), my hypothesis is that having chaturanga go only to shoulders helps keep form.  If I dip beneath the shoulders, I risk collapsing my form when tired, so only my head dips instead of the entire body lowering as one line.  I also suspect that shoulder height leaves enough room to transition smoothly into upward dog (and that may be where the risk for rotator cuff injury resides?).

 

I also experience some tight shoulder pain that radiates from an old neck injury.  But it hasn't been severe in chaturanga for me, so my pain must be in different muscles.  Does the modified knees-chest-chin and low cobra sequence reduce shoulder pain? I did that when my wrists acted up as a good break while I healed.

 

I hope the pain subsides and that you find relief with shoulder openers!

Laura and Turi like this

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Hey guys! Sorry to hear of the shoulder woes. I had something similar when I was just starting to build up the strength for chaturanga. Here's the thing. Chaturanga is TOUGH. It requires a lot of upper body strength that many of us just don't have right off the bat. So here's what I would suggest: 

 

-I personally don't like knees/chest/chin modification because going down to the chest/chin means you'll likely have to be rounding the shoulders and if the upper body strength isn't there it'll likely compromise the shoulders - that's just my opinion though.

 

-chaturanga has a lot going on. Not only do we need to keep the chest open (i.e. think about drawing shoulder blades toward one another and then gently down the back), but we also need to think about the elbows not going smaller than 90 degrees, the leg muscles engaged, the butt in line with the body (it often sinks), and then aim to look forward and on the ground rather than straight down. Here are two diagrams that may help: Common mistakes in sun salutes, and tips for chaturanga (just note, I don't like my wrist in the last picture, it should be exactly underneath the elbow) - I actually think the roll forward part in part 2 is pretty helpful too. 

 

If you're in actual pain right now I would suggest taking a total break from all chaturangas (just doing plank pose and going straight into downward dog in your vinyasas) and when the pain has subsided, doing a modified chaturanga on the knees (press hips forward before lowering) and working on upper body strength either in your practice or in the gym. Hope that helps!

Oak, Laura, yogafire and 2 others like this

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Candace, I love your notated pictures, and I think they're unique to your blog.  I imagine that it's time consuming to mark them up after taking them, so please know I really appreciate the pictures because you make everything very clear, and I feel like you're sharing what teachers focus on or see inside their head when they are making adjustments.

 

What are your thoughts on tricep push ups? Are they just different from chaturanga form, or is it just a common mistake to bend elbows smaller than 90 degrees? When I look at other pictures or videos online focused on push ups, most of the time the elbows bend smaller than 90 degrees.  I think I need to take a video of myself doing push ups to check what the lowest point is for me while keeping my elbows at 90 degrees - because maybe that's the sweet spot and it's easy to go past that spot without watching oneself.

Laura, Turi and YogaByCandace like this

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I think the reason why I am suddenly experiencing pain after doing chaturangas for months with no pain, is because I finally somewhat mastered the transition for chaturanga to downward dog without touching the mat in between. I must have compromised something while paying attention to something else! That is very often a challenge for me - that I cannot integrate the whole pose, but have to be attentive to each bodypart separately.

 

Thanks for the tips, Candace. Somehow I have missed the Tips for Chaturanga post until now  :huh:

YogaByCandace and Laura like this

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Shoulder pain is such a common problem for vinyasa yogis! I've had the exact same pain in my shoulder and it takes a long time to heal. In terms of anatomy, the pain is caused by the supraspinatus muscle that passes beneath the acromion process. If the alignment of the joint is off, the muscle starts chafing against the bone. To prevent this, it is super important to avoid tilting the shoulders forward and down when lowering down into chaturanga. Keep your chest open, the shoulder blades together and actively draw them down. Also, before going down from plank, shift the weight forward so that when your elbows are at 90 degrees, your wrists are directly under your elbows.You can practice this alignment by doing chaturangas against the wall. I also found it helpful to use a strap to test how low I should go: make a loop and place it just above your elbow joints, when you lower into chaturanga, the strap prevents you from going below 90 :)

yogafire, YogaByCandace and Turi like this

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I experienced the same thing and identified chaturanga as the culprit. I did the same thing as you, avoided the pose for a while and slowly built it back in while working a lot on form. The shoulder pain went away! I'm now very conscious of my chaturangas. If I go to a particularly fast-paced class, I'll frequently skip them after 6 or so repetitions.

YogaByCandace likes this

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Candace, I love your notated pictures, and I think they're unique to your blog.  I imagine that it's time consuming to mark them up after taking them, so please know I really appreciate the pictures because you make everything very clear, and I feel like you're sharing what teachers focus on or see inside their head when they are making adjustments.

 

What are your thoughts on tricep push ups? Are they just different from chaturanga form, or is it just a common mistake to bend elbows smaller than 90 degrees? When I look at other pictures or videos online focused on push ups, most of the time the elbows bend smaller than 90 degrees.  I think I need to take a video of myself doing push ups to check what the lowest point is for me while keeping my elbows at 90 degrees - because maybe that's the sweet spot and it's easy to go past that spot without watching oneself.

Thanks so much for the kind words - those graphics do take a lot of time, so it is so nice to know they're helpful to others. :) 

 

I personally love tricep push ups but I think they're best done once enough upper body and core strength is built up so you don't dip the shoulders or go lower than 90. I wouldn't say to go smaller than 90 if doing these push ups, unless you're doing the reverse push ups where you super slowly lower down (focusing on not dipping the shoulders). Feel free to take your knees down and push your hips forward just to take a little of the weight off and see how it goes for you. And I am a huge proponent of taking a video so you can see what your alignment is looking like.

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