Yoga for shoulder repair?

“I think it’s my shoulders that are giving me sleep problems.”

“It seems that when I wake up it’s because I’m feeling pain in my shoulders,” my brother Jim explained to me.

We’ve had many conversations over the past year trying to figure out ways to help him get off the sleep medication, Ambien.

He tried the natural alternatives first: various doses of melatonin, a magnesium drink called “Calm,” a warm shower before turning in, stress-relieving foods like milk, cottage cheese, or a bowl of oatmeal. Nothing worked. He would still open his eyes around 2 or 3 am–every night.

He even got his own personal yoga sequence for evening time and a soothing breath practice which brought some comfort, but it was always the Ambien that would provide the final relief.                                  

I suggested a Headstand.

Now he does one each night. Thirty seconds up on his forearms. Says he had pain-free shoulders the first night he turned himself upside down.

Loren Fishman is a New York physician who teaches yoga and turns his offices into a yoga studio after hours for his patients.

In the book, “The Science of Yoga,” by William Broad, Fishman described how his own injury–a torn rotator cuff–led him to try a Headstand. He discovered that his range of motion increased  after attempting it, and has avoided surgery  since he began doing the yoga inversion regularly.

Dr. Fishman explained that after conducting muscle activity measurements, he found that the pose helped activate repair by training the muscles around the rotator cuff to assume new roles—“muscle substitution,” as he described it.

Shoulders a problem? Maybe it’s worth a try.

But be sure to approach it slowly, mindfully, near a wall, of course, with shoulders strongly lifting up and away from the floor, since this is the “main factor” that initiated the healing benefits, according to Fishman.  Here is a good description of a forearm Headstand.

Best to you

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