If you’re like most people who spend a good part of the day working on a computer or other electronic device, you probably have internally rotated humeri (upper arms).  Internally rotated humeri adversely affect the shoulder joints, can cause neck tension, forward head position and lead to hyperkyphosis of the thoracic spine.

Try this test:  Only try this if you are able to get on your hands and knees without hurting yourself, or having to call a paramedic to help you back up.

  • Bend your elbow and notice the tendon that pops up.  Put a sticker dot, or draw a dot there as I did (see image below).  When you bend your arm the dot should be directly opposite your elbow.  We’ll call that your elbow pit.
  • Get on your hands and knees with hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips, pelvis width apart.
  • Notice what happens with your hands.  Can you keep them flat, or do they cup up?

Do the elbow pits (dots) face each other? If so, you’re “bull-dogging” it or another way to say it is your upper arms are internally rotated.

Now  while you’re still on your hands and knees try to externally rotate your arms to neutral so the elbow pits face forward. Do your hands cup up like claws?  If so, that’s due to hand and shoulder tension. Ideally, the thumb and index finger should form a 90-degree angle.

internally rotated arms

My right arm is more internally rotated because that’s how I use it most of the day.

 

externally rotating arms

Me externally rotating my arms. I still have a way to go with my right arm. I can really feel this in my shoulder.

Why do my hands claw and my arms rotate inward?  Because that is what I’m telling them to do the bulk of the day.  The body will remember whatever position you most frequently use it in. Doing intense exercise an hour a day doesn’t undo what you’re telling your body to do the other 23 hours a day.

typing on a keyboard

Claw-hands anyone?

 

Computer work, driving (hands at ten and two), massaging clients, walking around with clenched fists, drinking from my big ass mug.  Not that there is anything wrong with using a tea cup the size of your own head, but you shouldn’t need to use your traps to lift it.

 

big-ass-tea-cup

Hmmm, I think I figured out why my right shoulder gives me problems.

What I’m doing to correct this problem:

  • Change it up.  Do things differently. It will be good for your brain as well as your shoulders.  I’m going to get in the habit of using my left hand to control the computer mouse pad as much as I do the right.
  • I’m going to drive with my arms in neutral at nine and three o’clock or even four and eight o’clock.  Don’t tell my dad.  
  • I’m going to hold my cup differently.
  • While I’m standing at the computer reading, I’m going to do the hand stretch. LOVE THE HAND STRETCH!
stretching hands

Hand stretch to regain hand muscle length and increase circulation.

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