Fully extended vs over reaching

 
Saeth
I've been watching and practising the scapular alignment videos but I think something is not quite clear in my head. When we say neutral scapular does this mean that the shoulders are roughly on the same level as each other, with no scrunching up, forcing back or rolling forward? Does this apply to most moves?

When we're told to reach fully up what's the difference between reaching up fully and over extending/reaching? Would that be having a shoulder higher than another? By how much? Near the ear? I noticed on the performance climb video that Veena says not to over extend and this is when her shoulders aren't level with one another. She then changes it and both her shoulders are level. Am I right to understand that reaching up shouldn't include the shoulder but just the arm?
Dec 1, 2014
Saeth
Just to clarify, I'm not asking specifically for the performance climb but for general poling :)
Dec 1, 2014
Iani Ancilla
Someone will probably answer this better than me, and bear in mind I come to this from a calisthenichs and lifting perspective rather than a purely poledancing one. The body we have is the same though, and it works on the same principles whatever we do with it.
EVERYONE: if I am wrong please correct me =)

SHORT ANSWER: yes, neutral shoulder/scapula position is needed in most polework, namely in all work requiring you to use strength.

LONG ANSWER (bit of a novel, sorry):
Shoulders are (should be) a fairly "free" joint, so that your arms can move in several directions. You can roll shoulders forward, push them back, scrunch them up... All these have their uses. But shoulder position is directly linked to what your spine is doing, and for ANYTHING that requires strength (be it an invert, an iron x, the strength moment of a climb, a deadlift or bench press) you want your back (spine) to be in PERFECT position, for 2 reasons:
- SAFETY: a bendy/unstable back will make you more likely to get injured
- PERFORMANCE: your back and your core are the stabilizing point of all your body. You cannot perform any arm or leg (or anything else) movement with any real strength if your foundations (your back and core) are not solid and stable. If you do headstands, think of how solid your neck feels during a headstand. Now imagine (DON'T TRY!) to be in one and bend your back this way or that. Even just imagining it makes you cringe at the thought of your neck collapsing under you, right? That's because your back would not be engaged.

So, to engage your back, you need a few things. You need your hips to be level, your spine to be aligned (think of having your lower ribs pointing "down" rather than forward), your shoulders to be flat and in neutral position, and your abs to be engaged (how much depends on how much tension your back will be under to tolerate what the rest of the body is doing).

From here, you can extend your arms up, but this should not be done by overreaching. That means, your arm should go up, but if you keep your other hand on your shoulder, you should notice how the shoulder is down and engaged, how it feels "solid", rather than feeling like it's stretched upwards. If you watch any gymnastics videos, it will be easy to notice how a gymnast's shoulders are normally pushed down even when the arms are up. Rings are especially good to see the difference between an engaged back/shoulders and a dead hang (what we do not normally want).
If you cannot raise your arm much this way, that usually means you are lacking shoulder mobility, which many of us do. The good news is it's fairly easy to work on to get acceptable levels =)

sorry for the superlong post, got a bit carried away, but I can outdo many male friends at pullups despite having fairly weak arms (especially weaker than most guys!), all because I focus on working pullups (on and off the pole) from my back rather than from poor biceps trying to work against the rest of my body... so it's a special pet subject of mine ^^
Dec 1, 2014
Iani Ancilla
*when I said "dead hang", apparently the meaning in English is not the same as I was thinking of. I meant "hanging without engaging your shoulders and back, the way a dead body would hang if tied by the wrists". Which sadly is what a lot of people will "naturally" do if asked to reach for something overhead or hang from it.
Dec 1, 2014
Lucca Valentine
Something that helps me feel neutral scapula is to lay on the floor so both scapulae are flat against my rib cage, then I go through the motions listed above while keeping the scapula (relatively) where they are. They're gonna move some, but they should stay "stabilized." Veena has a video called 4 moves every pole dancer should know and they are great for feeling neutral scapula. If I'm feeling particularly out of alignment I will do them on the floor, scapulae flat, so I can feel what proper neutral feels like.Then once that feeling is processed I'll do them against the wall like she does
Dec 1, 2014
Lucca Valentine
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Dec 1, 2014
Veena
Fully extend the arm means, to keep the arm straight do not bend the elbow or place the hand near the face, but extend it. It does not mean to reach as high as possible because that would then pull the scapula up and away from the midline of the body not allowing for full contraction of the muscle when you go to lift yourself. This is the over extending I show and tell you not to do in the lesson. Then I demonstrate neutral and they are fairly level.

Neutral is a starting point for all pole work and also proper form in weight training. As you said, pinching or pulling the scapula away is not neutral. The shoulders should NOT be up right by the ears! Let me know if that makes sense.

Also have you tried doing the Up and down and forward and back scapula exercises against a wall or on the floor so you can feel them move.
Dec 1, 2014
Saeth
Thanks everyone for the feedback, it's helped me realise that yes, as I suspected, I was over extending. I have gone over the videos a lot and I understand it in my head as well as when I'm doing the exercises against the wall. I think the challenge for me is feeling this while "in action". I'm ok preparing for a move, invert for example, but I'm not sure if I'm actually applying it while doing something. With no mirrors in the studio it is hard to see and I can't count on my teacher to help me with it. We haven't been told that over extending is bad, quite the opposite, I've heard "reach up high as you can" so many times! Now I'm having to break that habit. I'm making changes and it's funny because now my back and shoulder muscles ache after poling. It's that good "I've used these muscles" ache. Before I was "dead hanging" in class and had a different type of pain and my upper back rarely ached.


With the combination of everyone's suggestions I'm a bit wiser and I understand it clearly. I just need to try and ensure I'm applying it while actively poling. It could be worse, I could have learnt about this 5 years down my pole journey instead of nearly 6 months.

Now, I'm going to lie on the floor and say hello to my scapulars again!
Dec 1, 2014
I polekat I
yes i hear ya!!! that is something often heard in beginners classes - reach overhead as high as you can!! and as a beginner it feels very natural to try grip as high as humanely possible, because you are so sweaty and slidy anyway, if you can juuuust get your hand an inch higher it gives you an extra second or two to spin ... its feels weird to engage your shoulder and do it that way as it puts you at a lower starting point then... it is awful this safety aspect and correct shoulder engagement really seems to be lacking from beginner pole classes, i never even heard of 'neutral scapula' position before i found this site and Veena's tips....!!!!!!
Dec 2, 2014
Davedeeking9167 Paid Member
I now have an impingement in my infraspinatus due to pinching my shoulder blades down so tight. I was afraid of hanging by my shoulders rotator cuff tendons so I really clamped down my scapula and caused an impingement. I'm in physio twice a week now. Ughhh
Aug 11, 2020
Veena
Ugh, that's no fun! Hopefully the new lessons help make shoulder/scapula placement in different arm positions more clear!
Aug 11, 2020
Davedeeking9167 Paid Member
Yes your video helped me understand why this happened to me. I haven't followed your videos in order not have I worked through them consistently. That was my fault. You have such good lessons and a well thought out plan for progression. This time I will follow that.
Aug 11, 2020
Davedeeking9167 Paid Member
Just got back from my second physio therapy appt. For my shoulder. Good news is he doesn't think there's a year at all in there it's definitely an impingement and I caused a lot of tenderness and soreness in there from it. He has been doing a humeral slide to relieve the impingement and he's been haveing me do scapular excercises to help me learn how to stabilize my scapula and not round my shoulders forward which pulls and impinges the rotator cuff. He likes your excecises . So I have the go ahead to do your videos for shoulders plus a few that he has given me to help with the internal rotation in my shoulders . It's mild but it's there and it's an issue. I want to encourage all girls who love pole to see a physio therapist. I think going forward ...when I start teaching pole...I'm going to require a release from the students physio therapist. I have a mild kyphosis and a mild scoliosis in upper back with scapula winging and internally rotated shoulders . Yikes. So glad I went to this Dr. He said he is gonna get me to where I will be stronger and less injury prone so I can continue my love for this sport into my old age....lol...I love this guy and you have a BIG seal of approval from him Veena. Dee
Aug 11, 2020
Veena
I'm glad he feels there's no tear! Also happy to hear you shared my lessons and he approves!
Aug 11, 2020
 
Shihyu Liu
I am on my third day and I just love your lessons, the pole hold strength practice is exactly what I needed and I can't believe that other studios don't instruct you with this kind of basic practice
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