Consider Your Shoulders


You’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders’

This simple phrase says it all – our shoulders tell us a lot about ourselves. In many cases, where the shoulders go, you go! Just watch people going to work and those on vacation. Shoulders tell it all!

I have compiled a few of my favorites Systema Russian Martial Art stretches, exercises and drills for ‘activating’ or ‘awakening’ this very intricate part of human anatomy.


• Stand and roll your shoulders in every possible direction.

• Stand and rotate your body left and right from the spine. Let your arms swing freely around your body. Stay relaxed and focused on rotating the body from the spine.

• One at a time, spin your arms around like propellers at your sides. Stay relaxed and generate power from the body, not the arm. This will help get the blood flowing to your arms.

• Outstretch your arms. Have two people grab your arms and begin to twist and rotate them. This is a stretch, so go slowly! Remember to relax and breathe.

• Towel wish – Hold your arms out to your sides and parallel to with your shoulders. Twist your arms so that they are rotating in separate directions. This can be done with and without tension through the arms.


• Push-ups – roll your shoulders forward and down. Roll shoulders back and up to starting position. Think of it as a set of small circles with the shoulders going up and down.

• Wheel barrel push-ups – Start in a push-up position, take one arm and rotate it behind to the floor (your chest should now face upwards to the ceiling). Take your other arm around so your chest is now facing the ground again. Continue to repeat.

• Roll-a-Squat – Start in a squat position. Have your partner place his/her hands on your shoulders and push you down slowly. As you ascend, roll your shoulders. It should feel and look like you’re going down from the shoulders and not your legs. Once you reach the bottom rise in the same fashion by rolling your shoulders. The main key here is not to power your way up or down with your legs. Focus on the shoulders.

• Positional Tension – Can be done with a partner or using a wall. Stand straight and extend arms forward, do not bend elbows. Have your partner push down on your hands slowly (hold 10 seconds). Next push up on your hands, then from outside to inside, and finally inside to outside. Each time hold the arms straight and resist the directional force.


• Push your partner around the room with your shoulders. Try and use as many possible directions. Focus on creativity more than power.

• Have your partner place both his/her hands on your shoulders. Lift one shoulder to your ear. Bend your head under your partners raised shoulder and travel under their arm. Once on the outside, lift your head up and rotate your chest back towards your partner. The hands should pop off with the rotation.

• Crawl along the ground from your back and then your front using just your shoulders, try not to use your legs.

• Place your hands behind your back as if you were handcuffed. Have your partner start to grab you around the head, and try to escape using just your shoulders. Same can be done with kicks, punches and a knife – just begin slowly and progress as your confidence grows.

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