Class #4861

Building Range of Motion

35 min - Class


Improve your postural alignment by building strength, range of motion, and awareness in the upper back and shoulders with this Mat workout by Cara Reeser. She builds on the previous classes starting with easy stretching to warm up and then working to build strength in the upper back, back of the arms, and neck. These protocols will help improve alignment by creating more balance between the front and back of our upper back, neck, and shoulders
What You'll Need: Mat, Yoga Block (2), Towel, Hand Weights (2), Foam Roller, Theraband


Read Full Transcript

Hi everybody. And welcome to class three in our series called Upper Body Health. Okay. So we're building each time. So here's what we need today.

We need our TheraBand, right? This was medium or lightweight. We need our hand towel. Two yoga blocks, I'm gonna use again the cork ones. You're welcome to use foam, if that's what you have or like.

We're adding hand weights today, right? I have three pounds here. You know, particularly if you're new to working with weight, I'm gonna say, start with one or two pounds. Three is pretty hefty for what we're doing. I wouldn't go over three 'cause we're doing, you know, sort of long lever stuff.

So three pounds is good for that. And then we've got our trusty roller, and I again, am using a soft kind of small roller, which is my preference, but you can use whatever you have and whatever you like. Okay, so we're gonna move through this class three, adding on to the stuff that we did for class one and two. So as the other classes, we are gonna start on our roller. We'll be going down to supine pretty soon.

So let's get our TheraBand nearby and our arm weights and our towel also, let's go ahead and just fold that now. Fold it the long way, that was the wrong direction. And just set it at the top of your mat. This is just in case you wanna use your towel for your head lifts today. Okay.

So here we go. We're gonna start on the roller horizontal with the roller just below my shoulder blades, right? We've did this the first class, but we're gonna do a different movement here. Feet pretty close to my sitting bones. And then remember not wide with the elbows but narrowish, and then more with your scapula sort of lifted, so you could just sort of feel that for a moment that coming back and forward, it's kind of like a swing, the movement of a swing, right?

So you wanna hold that scapula up and forward. And then we're gonna do a little bit of a cat and cow movement here, right? So we're gonna inhale and I'm gonna reach my elbows to the back wall, I'm gonna let my head press into my hands. And then when I exhale, I'm gonna curl my chin. I'm gonna let my hands help traction the back of my neck, I'm gonna curl my pelvis as well.

And I'm gonna go into sort of a cat spine, right? So I'm gonna inhale, go into a full cow spine, really let your ribs expand and then exhale, right. We're breathing through our nose, curling in, really pull up on the back of the skull and stretch your neck. But you know, go easy. You don't wanna be, you know, really bossy with your head.

So we'll just go a few more times, exhale. I always like to do inhale during extension, right? Just give myself a little more room and exhale. While we're here, just go ahead and take a moment, just roll out that tissue between your shoulder blades up by your neck and along your shoulder blades and then come on down and we're gonna reach our arms forward and just peel ourselves up and we'll just move that roller out of our way. Okay, and apparently Sammy has joined the class, which is always fun.

Okay, we're gonna take our TheraBand. We're gonna get started with TheraBand right away. So let's just take a moment. Hold your TheraBand here. And if this is available to you, just go ahead and roll back, right.

Just roll on back onto your back. And then we're gonna do a little bit of rotator cuff work. Now, one thing I didn't say in the first class is, is if, when you're laying down, if you feel like your head is really far behind you, you should definitely put up... Sorry, Sammy. You should definitely put like a pillow or something under your head.

So if you feel like you're kind of shoved back, do put something under your head a towel or something to support you. Now, here we are. We have our elbows to our side body, not on the mat, but above the mat, right? Feet, hip distance apart. And I'm at a 90, 90 degree angle with my arms, right.

And what we're gonna get into here is the muscles of the posterior rotator cuff, right? So we're gonna inhale, nice lateral breathing as we pull out, let your elbows stay exactly where they are and then slowly come back in. So this is a rotational movement of your upper arm bone and the muscles involved are the muscles of the back armpit. So the muscles that support the shoulder in relationship to the socket. So breathing in.

Exhale. Pull out. Exhale, right. There's always gonna be a desire to kind of move the elbows away from the side body. Just keep that as is.

This might be a pretty small movement, we're gonna do two more. Do keep in mind that you don't wanna be pulling your shoulder blades down your back, right. We wanna keep a floating easy shoulder blade all the time in this practice. Now I'm gonna ask you to go ahead and just straighten your arms out forward and then bring the band under your knees and grab the tabs. We'll do some shoulder flexion here.

So again, shoulder blades free. And you're gonna inhale. You're gonna reach your arms back. Big inhalation. (inhales) Exhale, come in.

(exhales) Inhale. (inhales) Exhale. (exhales) Right, so again, we want the scapula to be gliding up the back of the ribcage as we pull. You also wanna make sure your palms are facing each other. So you have an external rotation in your arm bones.

It's really important when you're taking your arms overhead that your upper arm bone is externally rotated. Inhale. (inhales) So that is... Yeah, that's gonna help that freedom so that the extra rotation would turn your palms, like towards each other, towards the floor and back in. And then we're gonna change the pulling here.

We're gonna have our palms facing down now and we're gonna pull straight out towards our shoulders. So we're gonna inhale. Exhale. Again, don't pull your blades down your back, right? Your arms don't have to be extremely rotated to the max here because we're not going overhead, but you just wanna go out and in two more times.

And then we're gonna just bring that band. We're gonna bring it across the front of our body for a moment. Just leave it there. We're gonna go into our head lifts. Now, if you're willing to try your head lifts without the towel today, great.

If you feel like you want your towel, go ahead and bring it under your head. I'm gonna go with float, right? So my trunk is not gonna change. I'm gonna lift my head. I'm gonna float for five, four, three, two, one.

Come down. Oh, it's so hard, right? So much work in the front of the throat there. We're gonna do that twice more. Hold for five, four, three, two, one and rest, right?

We want those heavy lifters working in the neck here. One more time. Five, four, three, two, one and down. Now we're gonna add in, right? We know that, we're gonna go float.

Then you're gonna spin your skull on your neck and then you're gonna press your chin down nice and tight. Don't be afraid, that's a good, strong movement. You're looking for a stretch in the back of the neck, nice contraction in the front, holding and coming down. Look straight to ceiling. Such a big work.

Now you might feel this in the back of your neck 'cause it's on the stretch, but just hang in there. Two more times, curl in. We're gonna hold. And back out. If you're fatiguing, grab your towel.

That's a fine thing to do. Open and hold And back out. Now this time we're gonna use our hands. We're gonna come into a bit of an upper abdominal curl. So you're gonna float, spin and flex.

You can use your towel and just come into an upper ab curl and just hold for a moment and back down. So just get into a little bit of abdominal work now. Float, spin, flex the head, curl up. And then let's just take the opportunity here to increase the load by bringing your right leg in, bringing your left leg in, keep the shape nice and tight. Breathe in, breathe out.

Breathe in. It's getting our abs turned on a little bit here, breathe out. Right foot down, left foot down, head back, and then bring your left knee into your chest. Straighten your right leg, pull into your hands and roll yourself up to seated. Okay, we're gonna go into our sideline work now and we're gonna change this a little bit.

I'm gonna take my yoga blocks like we've been doing, but what I'd like to add to this series today is using the roller. If you have a really hard roller at home, you might wanna just roll up a yoga mat or a bath towel or a yoga blanket. Well, basically you'll get the concept. What I'm gonna do here is I'm just gonna be adding a little bit of extension. I love this for my opening of my chest to the front shoulders.

So I have this roller right under my armpit. I don't want it low on your ribs where your floating ribs are and you have your hand here. So you're gonna go easy does it, reaching over. I'm gonna reach for Sammy and then I'm gonna open and I'm in this nice extension. My leg definitely has to lift now because of the roller.

And I get a big stretch across my pec girdle, breathe in. And then you can reach back around. Right now if this feels like too intense for you, then go back to doing this just on the floor. But for those of you who want that little bit of extra stretch across your pec girdle, you can bend your elbow there, you can squeeze your scapula back. You can stretch your fingers, whatever feels right for you.

Coming back, exhale. (exhales) Letting your head really rotate on the blocks, looking up. Last one, big pec stretch, reach out, and back in. And then we're just gonna take a little moment here. You gotta lift your head up.

Just try to have your head so it's like on, in line with your spine. And then I want you just to glance at your yoga block and then forward, and then just look up at the sky a little bit and then forward. So we're just getting a little bit of work here in the side neck. We're sneaking that in. Hopefully it's not too aggravating, but again, strength is key here for getting out of neck discomfort and then you can lie your head down.

Just come on to your back. Let's be in the yoga blocks here for a moment. Just take a deep breath in, and exhale. (exhales) And reach your arms up and we're gonna just come up to seated... For the purposes of staying facing you today, I am gonna switch over here to the other side.

You can do the same if you wish, or you can just turn around. So we're here and we're gonna go inhale, reaching around. I'm opening through my chest, big breath in, and out. I'm gonna reach around stretching and bringing my temples back down over the head. There's no right or wrong in these types of movements, straightening, bending your elbow, stretching your hands, contracting your hands.

Whatever sort of gives you that sort of sensation of release or that sensation of stretch. And you're gonna reach over. I'm gonna take a full breath round on this last one. (inhales then exhales) And we're gonna come around. And then guys, we're gonna just do that same little thing.

We're gonna lift our head and look down a little bit. Look forward, look up. Try not to think into it too much. It's not like... It doesn't have to be perfect.

We're just using the muscles along the side of that neck and then bring your head down. Again lie over on your back. Just take a big full breath here in this pec stretch, breathe in and breathe out. Reach your arms forward and roll yourself up to seated. Okay, last thing here on our side, we're gonna go ahead and keep one yoga block for under our head.

I want you to grab one of your arm weights. Now this side rotator cuff series is just fabulous for strength, but it could be a little heavy with three pounds. I do this a lot, so I feel comfortable, but you might wanna do this with no weight and then you might wanna do it with something lighter. But we have a 90 degree angle here and then I'm gonna just bring this up. This is the same muscles we were using before the rotator cuff, the external rotator cuff muscles, were gonna go up and down.

I'm trying to keep a 90 degree angle, which is sometimes hard to tell. I can cheat and look at myself a little bit in the camera over there. And right now you'd want your scapula to be very free. Don't pull your scapula down. Don't pull it down.

Fatigue those muscles. And then we're gonna straighten the arm along your hip. Now this is gonna use the muscle that comes right across here. It's called your supraspinatus. So you're gonna lift just to about a 45 degree angle and back down.

Again, that's really hard with three pounds. So you should not be straining yourself here. Use one pound. You could hold a can soup. You know, you could hold just a little object with a little bit of weight to get started and then build up over time.

And one more time. And then we're gonna turn onto our back. You're gonna hold this weight in both hands and you're gonna bend your elbows to a 90 degree angle. Now you're gonna reach the weight back and you're gonna reach for the floor. You might not get to the floor and then you're gonna bring it up.

And we're looking for that work in the armpit muscles. So I'm gonna go back. I'm gonna let my scapula rise up and then deep in my armpits I'm gonna reach my weight back up. So you should feel a sense of hollowing in your armpits. Exhale.

Two more times in. Ex... (exhales) Inhale. And we get to do this really fun transition where you're gonna reach the weight, lift yourself and roll yourself up to a tall seat, and then we're gonna switch over again. I'm turning just so I can keep facing you so you can see the technique.

Again, we have this across 90, 90, elbow stay stationary. We're gonna go up. And for me, this is my strong on side, so it's a little less tedious. You do wanna make sure that scapula is not pulling down. Breathe in.

And you wanna make sure your elbow doesn't leave your side body. So we're really working. This is the rotation here, the access of rotation, the humerus bone, two more times. And then we're gonna go to that muscle across the top shoulder, supraspinatus. And we're gonna go up just to about 45 degrees and down.

So that muscle starts this type of movement. Anything beyond that would go into more of your superficial muscles, your deltoid. So we're gonna go up and down. Again, make sure you're not pulling your scapula down. You want that to be nice and free, like a little boat floating on the sea.

Up and down. And then we're gonna lie back. We'll do a couple more of these for fun. Back you go and in three more times. Inhale. (inhales)

Ex... (exhales) In... (inhales) Ex... (exhales) In... (inhales).

Straight your legs and roll yourself up. We're gonna get into some Pilates protocols by the end of this series. So we gotta get ready for that. Okay, here we go, guys. Move your yoga blocks out of the way, we're coming onto all fours.

Let's do a little bit like we did in class one and two, just getting some stretch here, just reach back into sort of an elongated child's pose, and then just bring yourself over. You can just sort of bring your hips forward, get back onto your shoulders over your wrist. We're just going into some, basically shoulder flexion vis-a-vis the way we're changing our body. And then I want you to come in a little closer and really find your hand print nice and strong. And now we're gonna start our lazy and active cat.

I'm gonna go ahead and put the ball mounts of my feet under because we are gonna float this in a minute. So lazy active cat. Shoulder blades come together, shoulder blades widen. So we're using serratus anterior here to get some motion in and get some strength to keep those scapula apart. The goal is wind your weight bearing to have this active cat working.

So that your scapula stay wide. Now try to float your knees off and keep that active cat. Hold for one, hold for two, hold for three and come down. Now let's practice that lazy active cat in that floating position. So you're gonna come up and then you're gonna go lazy, active.

Remember active is what we always want. Lazy, active. One more. It's a big workout in my serratus there. Knees down and rest for a moment.

Let's just rub our hands together, shake your wrists out. Sometimes that wrist extension can feel sort of like, ah, that hurts. But we do build tolerance by being on our hands like that. The last exercise we're gonna do here, I call camel drinking water. You can just call it camel for short.

Anyway, what happens is my hands are a little bit ahead of my shoulders. I'm gonna activate my active cat. And then guys, I'm gonna bend my elbows. I'm gonna keep shifting back so that my shoulder is directly over my elbow as I tap my down and straighten it. But all the while I'm keeping that active cat.

I bend, tap, straight it. So my shoulder isn't forward of my elbows, it's in line. And you should start to feel the work here in the arm pit, in your serratus, in your triceps. And we're gonna come all the way down. Actually, before we do that, let's get our roller in front of us to come all the way down into our prone position.

So we're come down to prone. We've got some nice... I'm gonna move this towel out of the way. I've got some nice stretching here. We're gonna start with a little baby swan with our hands on the roll.

So I'm gonna just have my elbows bent. My wrists are up here. And then I want you to basically start to reach your arms out, pick up your head and look down. Look up at your roll. Look down, turn your head and bend your elbows.

Again, I lift my elbows, I start to stretch, I look down. I look up. So this is sort of building into that, that one we were doing in class one and two. And forward, in, look up, down and bend in. And then now we're gonna go into a little swan.

Our first swan, we're gonna have our head, our cheek bones in line with our biceps. And I want you to look up first and then just start to roll that roller a little bit towards you. You wanna use your glutes and hamstrings to support your pelvis down into the mat here. So your low back is not sort of getting sort of crunchy as they say. So you're gonna lift up and you're gonna let your chest wall rise up.

You can go as high as you, your practice allows, just getting some extension in thoracic. Now, one more time. I just love that swan. And then I'm gonna go ahead and just bring my arms around. Let's go ahead and bring your towel.

I need to for my mic, under your forehead here, and then you're gonna have your arms down by your side. Now we're gonna do those tricep lifts that we did in the other class. You're gonna lift up, you're gonna wrap your scapula. Push your hands really high towards the ceiling, and then float your head off the towel. Hold and release.

Three more, reach up, hold. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and release, inhale. Exhale. (exhales) One more time. Isometric triceps there.

Now, if this is available, I want you to interlaced your thumbs or your fingers. I'm gonna use my thumbs today. And then guys, we're gonna just reach your... Float your head up and then slide your hands down your butt, and then wrap your scapula together. Look at the front of your mat and then pick up your palms.

Let's breathe in. Let's breathe out. Squeeze blades. Let's breathe in. Let's breathe out.

And then release that. Just bring your hands under your forehead and then just sort of rock your head side to side. Then you're gonna come up onto your forearms. And I love this one. Forgetting some strength in the triceps.

We're gonna straighten and bend our elbows. We're gonna go eight times. Eighth, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. And hands back, push yourself into a wide child's pose. Drop your head.

Two full breath rounds. Just let it go. (inhaling and exhaling) Slowly, roll yourself up to kneeling. And then we're gonna come back and we're gonna finish up with... Oh, we're gonna do some seated stuff and then we'll finish up with some supine.

So for our seated stuff, let's get to our yoga blocks again. Get your TheraBand and get your arm weights as well. So bring the arm weights to side. We'll start with the TheraBands. We're gonna be in our rowing, so, and our pulls that we've done before.

So we're here and we're gonna go pull and and then inhale. Let's do five more. So we've been doing these in this series. Just getting that up or back moving shoulder blades. And then let's do six here.

Six. Five. Keep your upright posture. Four, three. Yeah, you can start to feel that fatigue at the top of the shoulders.

Two. We want that fatiguing up there in that upper trap. One. And then just let the band go, just drop your head down. Just take a forward bend to let your neck go.

And roll yourself back up. Okay, so now we're gonna use some arm weights overhead. Really again, you know, the idea of releasing here, you know, we wanna build some strength in that upper trap area. I know we tend to feel like, oh, if it feels really tight to the touch, it must be strong, but that's actually not the case. And research really supports that more strength up here helps with neck and shoulder pain, particularly neck pain.

So we're gonna have our weights here. And now the goal here is also to really control your trunk. So you don't wanna be wobbling around or slouching. Really find your upright posture. You might wanna hold your abdominal muscle wall inward.

You're gonna inhale. You're gonna reach your arms up. You're gonna hold for five, four, three, two, one, and slow draw down. Four more. Hold.

Draw down. Breathe in. You can even hold your breath at the top there, that'll help keep your chest lifted. Just let your breath be suspended and come down. Inhale.

Let your breath be held there for a moment. Your ribs are nice and wide, exhale in. Okay, bicep curls. I'm gonna narrow my stance. I'm actually gonna straighten my legs so I don't get in the way of myself.

We're gonna go from the floor up. So if your hands are grazing the floor, you might wanna stack your yoga blocks. So you're able to drop all the way down. We're gonna do six more. Six, seven, eight.

I'm counting backwards. Anyway, it's a dance teacher thing. We'll just do two more from here. That happens to me all the time. And rest and pause with that.

Okay, great. So now we're gonna set those guys down. We'll be adding more weights in each class. And let's come on for our yoga blocks. We're gonna finish up in our supine series and we're gonna take our TheraBand with us.

Let's just reach that forward and we'll roll on back down. All right, we're gonna go to shoulder bridge with the TheraBand. So you've got your TheraBand on your hip crease here. And it's really kind of snugging down into your hip crease and watch that your shoulder blades are not pulling down your back and you are gonna press into your TheraBand and you're gonna press, press, press up, and you're gonna hold. Now your arms are really trying to stay down, so there's a big amount of work in your triceps, hamstrings, right?

We try to get into some of our other Pilates work here and we're gonna come down. Again, shoulder blades should be reaching towards midline as you come up, that's always true on a bridge in might opinion. And you're gonna press those pinky sides down. Hold, breathe in. Now guys, make sure you don't have your chin tucked in.

Tuck your chin back, make space in your throat. Roll yourself back down. Okay, we have one more here. We're gonna go up. And then listen, you're gonna walk your hands up the band a little and we're gonna do six tricep pulls here.

We're gonna go six, five, four, three, two, one. Hold and roll down. So much work there, but it's great. And then you're gonna take that TheraBand, you're gonna reach it over your head and we're gonna bring our foot now into the band. So we're gonna have our foot in the band here and we're gonna do a couple of rows.

We'll do about six rounds of this while we're stretching our hamstrings. Breathing in. (inhales) All right, so we're just waking up the back of the leg and taking a little opportunity to keep that upper back and those back of the arms working. And then I want you to take that leg and bring it down to about a 45 degree angle and turn it in and out, just a couple of times, keyhole leg. Keep it turned out, guys.

We're gonna walk up for tree. You're gonna walk up your leg in, find your way up. We're gonna go for a really nice stretch in the back body. Interlace your fingers around your Achilles tendon or shin calf, drop your head. Press your supporting heel into the mat, reach your other heel away and let your head dangle.

And then roll back up, sit up tall. So this is kind of, kind of remembering a little bit of nod to that forward head that we were doing earlier in the season. Down. In the season, in the series. And walk down.

All right, bring yourself into a little bit of a stretch and then grab your TheraBand. We're gonna stretch the hamstrings of the other side. And we're gonna just take advantage of little bit of pulls here. Six, five, four. It's also nice to really flex the foot there.

Get some calf stretch. If you wanna hold that for a moment longer, feel free to do that. And then we're gonna bring that down and we're gonna take the leg and we'll do some internal, external rotation. Keep the external. Let's do tree, walk up the leg, make this nice basket bind, drop into that, that forward head and then go forward.

Really push the heel into the mat, push the other heel away. Up tall, drop your head forward. Up tall. And walk down. That feels so good.

And then let's bring that knee into your chest and we'll just roll up to seated for a moment and let's do some spine stretch forward and some twisting to finish. So let's start with spine stretch forward. Reach your arms up. Don't go way back here. Stay a little bit more towards your kind of temples or cheek bones.

Take a deep breath in and then exhale. Bring yourself forward, reaching long and then pull out on the band. Five, four, three, two, one. Bring yourself back up, inhale. Let's just bend the elbows and pull that back behind and stretch out.

One more, inhale. (inhales) Pull out. Four, three, two, one. Up we go. And pull back.

We're just counting down. Take it forward. Three, two, one. Take it up. Pull back and forward One and two and up and pull that back, squeeze your blades together.

Last round here. Just pull out once, come up, pull back once, up. And then let's bring our legs together, and finally, let's finish with this twist that we did last class as well. This time I'm gonna keep the arms straight. And we're just gonna pull a little bit around looking and then I can look at Sammy and twist and forward.

This is not me really pulling my arm. It's me rotating my trunk. So my hand stays in the same relationship to my shoulder. So it's an isometric in my shoulder and a movement in my trunk, actually. So here we are turning.

You can see it's not very big. It's a difficult movement. I'm using my abdominal muscles, looking... And I can look at Sammy's cute face when I come back. Hi, honey.

And pull and in and rest. Good, guys. So that's the end of class three. Class four we're gonna start a little bit more... I'm sorry, sweetie.

Into a little bit of a flow. And class five and six, we're gonna be hitting it pretty hard on some planks and side planks. So keep coming. See you soon.


Jane R
thank you, great class, just what my shoulders needed today
Hello, Can you add  cc´s   transcript  to videos?   thanks
1 person likes this.
Loving this series!  Can you recommend a timeline for implementing it.? Like how many weeks between going on to the next class? How many times a week and should it be used as a kind of warm up before weightlifting?  Thanks.
Also love your cat!
Lina S
I've really enjoyed the class and learned some new things. Interesting moves nicely cued (the twist at the end with the band for example). What a cute cat! It looks a lot like mine! Thank you!
1 person likes this.
Thank you! I love Sammy coming in for some love at the end. 
1 person likes this.
Thank you Cara, as always - very versatile, well cued class, and lots of room for adding variations. Somehow it feels as if you give us the freedom to do so .. love it!
Thanks for using the MELT Roller! It's perfect for my shoulder girdle and rib wall!
Ruth S
1 person likes this.
A great class - thank you. It has set me up for the day at my desk
Lovely class. Always amazed that we can keep finding new variations. Reg is my cat that often joins me online:) Love their curiosity! xx

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