Shoulder Girdle


scap•u•la: anatomical term for the shoulder blade
clav•i•cle: anatomical term for the collarbone

We need to get 360º with this part of the body.

Along with any excuse to say “girdle” in context, the shoulder girdle is an INCREDIBLE part of the body. In a nutshell, just think about the INSANE MOBILITY of your arms. The only bony attachment for your shoulders is at the clavicle - this means incredible mobility! That's awesome for things like rock climbing and fencing and cartwheels. It’s also why shoulders are injured so frequently...

Collectively, it’s all your shoulder girdle.

Your scapula are huge and take up a decent portion of your back. Mobility must be matched with stability in order to get the most out of your workout (and stay safe!). Before beginning any Pilates exercise (or any exercise, for that matter…), take a moment to check in with the shoulder girdle:

 Shoulder stability in seated twist

Shoulder stability in seated twist

  • Are the scapula set flat and active on the back?

  • Are you opening through the clavicle (part of keeping the scapula set) and relaxing through the chest?

  • Are you letting your arms rotate in and your chest collapse?

  • Are your shoulders hunching up toward your ears? (the cold-weather-creep)

  • Are you pinching your shoulder blades together to pop your chest out? (and subsequently pop your RIBS)

  • In an effort to combat any hunch, are you actively pulling your shoulders down?

  • Do you have one shoulder higher than the other?

If you answer yes to any of these THAT'S OK.

It’s all about awareness.

Remind yourself that you don't necessarily have to be working those muscles right now.

And if that hunch/roll/collapse stays, that's ok. We hold tension in our muscles, it's a fact, and part of the work of Pilates is to strengthen the opposing muscle group to combat that extra tightness or weakness that has resulted in an imbalanced body. My job is to see those imbalances and know just what to program. Your job is to turn up the awareness.

And that’s it.


More than anything - it’s one of those things that you just have to keep coming back to in order to build your body awareness. Maybe set a timer on your phone, maybe pair it with every trip the bathroom, whatever - find a way to ask yourself multiple times daily: what’re my shoulders up to and do they need to be doing x/y/z?