If You’re Not Feeling Like a Pimp, Go Ahead, Set Your Shoulders Back

4 Jun

If I wasn’t extremely passionate about what I do, and didn’t enjoy everyday I had the opportunity to do it, then my list of possible career change fields would look like this:

1. Rock N Roll

2. Rock N Roll

3. Psychology

I am intrigued by people, and how we operate. Lately, I have spent more time reading about physical qualities (posture, mannerisms, movement quality, etc.), and their relationship to our emotional well being.

I am a big advocate of the “mind, body, soul” approach to well being. I like the idea that each affects another, and in order to find a sense of wellness, we must not ignore one or the other.

Nowhere, in my experience, is it more common to see the link between physical and emotional distress then with the shoulders. The shoulders can tell us a lot about someone, and improving their positioning not only improves someones physical, but their emotional well being too.

This morning I read a fantastic article on Psychology Today, entitled “What The Shoulders Say About Us.” The author, Joe Navarro, is a former FBI agent and an expert on nonverbal communications and body language. Navarro touches upon posture, and mannerisms that originate from the shoulders. I highly recommend you check it out, but here are a few quick bullets:

  • Broad shoulders, and the “V” torso, are associated with vitality, dominance, and hierarchy.
  • As a species we are subconsciously attracted to the “V” torso. Sorry skinny little hipsters 😉
  • Criminals often comment on how they choose their targets. They seek out individuals they perceive to look , or who carry themselves, in a weak, frail, or non-athletic manner. The shoulders play a large role in this perception.
  • Shoulders are a definitive sign of happiness and joy. The shoulders often tell what is going on within the heart and mind.
  • Slumped and motionless shoulders are synonymous with stress, depression, and general unhappiness or “spunk”.
  • Navarro writes: “Over the years I have dealt with individuals who have been diagnosed as clinically depressed. In each of those cases I could certainly see shoulders that didn’t defy gravity, shoulders that lacked spontaneous movement, shoulders seemingly weighed down by the weight of their malady. And while a child coming home from school may demonstrate slumped shoulders for a few minutes or hours, the clinically depressed may be like this for months or years. In time, if not corrected, it shapes how they are perceived.”

Look around, those who carry themselves well are generally those who also embody many other positive characteristics. What interests me about something like the information above, is that adding a physical approach to your healing can have tremendous result.

Here are 5 suggestions, some physical and some not, to set your shoulders back, and have you feeling like the pimp that you are:

1. Do more soft tissue work.

Foam rolling, massage, etc. Start making them a habit – with special focus to the upper back, lats, and pectorals. Here are a few great videos from Ben Bruno, and Eric Cressey to get you started:

2. Get Mobile

In addition to self massage, you need to start mobilizing certain areas to promote better ranges of motion. Here are some solid places to start, and drills we use day in and day out at Cressey Performance:

3. Lift Some Heavy Sh*t

You need to reverse the effects of all the low intensity holding of your current posture, and repetitions in that faulty position. You do that by consistent high intensity work in better positions and ranges of motion. So get to work, be safe, lift heavy, and please…do more horizontal rowing. Did I forget to mention throwing around some weight is a pretty phenomenal outlet for stress too?!

4. Meditate

I’m not really an “Om” kind of person. I don’t light candles or burn incense, and I am still trying to levitate; unsuccessfully. However, I do take time to shut off, and just CHILL. I recommend you do the same. It doesn’t need to be anything elaborate. I think walks work well. I generally cue up some of my favorite music, walk aimlessly for 2 miles, and then return back to reality. It helps me to de-stress, and I prefer to do so outside.

5. Re-Charge

I am not going to get into the nitty gritty of why sleep is bossanova, It just is, and you need to make getting enough of it a priority. If you can’t find the time for 6 – 8 at night, check out this little blurb from the people at Discovery Health:

The term power nap has become part of the American lexicon. Research shows that a midday nap that lasts 30 minutes to one hour can reverse information overload and improve the ability to learn a motor skill. Thirty-minute naps appear to prevent on-the-job burnout, while the hour-long snooze actually boosts performance back to early morning levels. The theory is that during sleep, the brain is able to store the information its holding onto as memory. A midday nap allows us to file everything away that we’ve learned to that point, and we awaken with an empty storage space.


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