Day 3 Shoulders
Freeing the shoulderblades means much more than the improvement of arm movements: Restricted movement or high tension around the shoulder blade can result in a limited ability to turn the head, which might result in difficulties lying on the belly or lifting the head from this position. Lifting a shoulder easily to and turning the head in one direction is also a developed fear response - as opposed to the more primitive Moro reflex. Free shoulders support deep inhalations, and many shoulder movements are relevant in crawling. Tightness around the musculature of the shoulder blade can restrict rotational movement of the spine. Issues with breathing and swallowing can be a reason for tight shoulders.
Take a lot of time to make this gentle and interesting. Never feel like stretching - the nervous system needs constant feedback that everything is fine, and the muscles can relax.
Here I show three different versions of working with the shoulders. Doing one would be enough for one day, or you can see which one works best for you, and switch back and forth. You can always come back later.
Put the child sitting between your legs, it can lean against you if it needs to (in a half-lying position). Make sure you are sitting comfortably as well. You might want to lean back against a backrest or pillow.
- put your open hand under the armpit and gently lift the child`s shoulder. Start with the easy shoulder first. Some children lift their arms quite high - don`t be surprised, just follow. The range of movement is not important - you want to hold up steady, gentle support.
- Try to feel muscle and bone - where is the ridge of the shoulder blade? Are the tiniest movements possible there?
- Feel around the clavicles as well, and try to find where the clavicle is, and where the ribs are.
- Lift the shoulders again. Now try to move them a bit. Remember it is not a straight movement - the shoulder blade has to glide around the ribcage.
- Gently hold the head and lift the shoulder. Always work very carefully - again, the range is not important, it is about letting a child feel that movement is possible, that is all.
- If it is easy, move the head a bit towards the shoulder and back.
- Take a little break, then start with the other shoulder.
- Cross the child`s arms. You are working with the upper arm (then change afterward).
- What movements are possible there? Can you lift both arms? Can the child bend the elbows to bring the hand closer to the face? This would require a rotation in the elbow.
- Can you rotate the arm in the shoulder blade?
- Move the arm forward and back in seesaw-movements.
- Look for variations - arm a bit turned in or out.
- Do the other arm.
- Hold both arms in front of you, palms together if possible, and let the base of the hands glide forward and back.
In this lesson, the sensation is the key, not movement.
- Help the child touch its face - the left side of the face with the right hand.
- What is there? How does the sensation change from when you are touching the side of the mouth to gliding over the cheek? How does it feel to touch with the back of the hand or the palm?
- Take about five minutes with this, and only go where it is easy. If you can reach the ear, spend some time there. Some children can feel around their neck as well.
- Try the other hand.
- Cross the child`s arms and feel the side of the ribcage. (Then cross the other arm over).
- Hold one elbow in place and help the child to glide down the leg with the other hand.