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Shoulder roll: bilateral or uni-lateral?

MaryElizabeth's picture
Last seen:
6 months 3 weeks ago
03/11/2016 - 9:54am
Shoulder roll: bilateral or uni-lateral?

Hello, Esther (or whoever answers),
I sent this question via e-mail and did not hear back. I got a response that the forum was the best way to get an answer. Therefore, I hope someone will be able to answer through this site.

With the Shoulder Roll: I understand it is to be performed one shoulder at a time, forward,up, and back. 

A person with whom I shared this technique, believes that bilaterally lifting the shoulders up, back, and down is equivalent. I wanted to know if and how these differ. I believe the one at a time is the recommended process. And would like to be able to clarify the "why". I know it helps me, yet I need more than how I feel to help explain to others. 

I look forward to your answer! And I sincerely hope it will be easier to access the answer than it was to ask the question. 

Mary Elizabeth (MS,OT)

jon.ladiges's picture
Last seen:
2 years 4 months ago
03/21/2016 - 6:17am

Moving post to appropriate forum.

Last seen:
3 days 2 hours ago
09/05/2014 - 6:51am

Hi Mary Elizabeth - We do teach students to do the shoulder roll one at a time.  What I've observed in myself and others is that when I roll both shoulders at once, it is very easy to go a little too fast or a little carelessly and end up moving them through a full circle, landing right back where I started. It also makes it easy to introduce a sway in the back.  Doing one at a time makes it easier for me to pay attention and notice how each shoulder feels as it goes a little forward, a little up, a lot back, and then make sure I relax and let it lower into its new position as I stop making effort.

Now that I've been doing shoulder rolls for a few years, maybe sometimes I do both at once.  I have body memory of where each shoulder's best placement is.  But I truly do a much better job one at a time. My goal is not only to put my shoulders in an optimal position but also to increase my posture awareness as I go through my daily activities, and rolling one shoulder at a time helps me develop that.

I notice in rereading your question that your friend's protocol doesn't include the initial "a little forward."  This step helps the shoulder move more freely back into position and stay there once you relax.  Page 42 in the 8 Steps book has an illustration that may be helpful.

I hope this answers your question well enough.  Do check back with us here if you have more questions or comments.

Thanks for persisting with your question!

Doreen Giles

Gokhale Method Teacher


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