Keeping Your Shoulders Down

By June Scharff

For many of us who have studied any form of dance; we have been told to keep our shoulders down. For some of us, we did it to a fault causing other issues in the upper back. Today in most dance or Pilates exercise disciplines we say something like “let your shoulders melt down your back” to prevent jamming the shoulders down.


Still, in strengthening the core we must keep the shoulders from rising up. So often when we are exercising, the upper trapezius (or traps), like to take over and do the work. The result quite often is a sore neck and sore shoulders; the intended muscles, either back, arms, or abdominals do not get worked efficiently.


In doing back, arm, or abdominal work you may have to visualize the muscles you want to work, and talk to your traps to get them to let go. After you do this, if your traps and neck are still getting involved, you may need to reduce the amount of weight on hand weights, or the level springs you are using. Sometimes doing the exercise with no weight load at all can help, then you can get the feeling of using the intended muscles, and build from there.


It takes a great deal of concentration, but you will find that once you get out of the neck and traps, you will be surprised how quickly you get stronger.