Ancient mind-body martial arts and healing traditions are a passion of mine. Anything that has withstood the test of time and has been handed down for centuries or even thousands of years, must have merit. In today’s video article I’d like to share with you a shoulder loosening and strengthening exercise derived from ancient Chinese martial arts. It’s called “lion combs mane” and is demonstrated here by kung-fu master Tyler Rea. These shoulder exercises can stand on their own or be used to supplement physical therapy or other exercises you may be doing. They are great at toning and loosening the shoulder, rotator cuff, upper back and tendons of the upper limbs.
Lion combs mane
“Lion combs mane” is an essential shoulder exercise known to many Chinese martial traditions. In addition to having within its movements many self-defense applications, it is also a powerful exercise for developing and maintaining shoulder flexibility and strength, as well as coordination of the torso rotation with hand movements.
To begin the exercise stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Place one hand on your abdomen, and allow your other hand to gradually ascend the center of your torso to the top of your head as if you are combing your hair. Allow your palm to contour your scalp and skull. In a relaxed fashion, next allow your elbow to sink down, anchoring into your centerline, and drop down to its natural position.
Alternate sinking the elbows
The alternating sinking of the elbow, known as “elbow sinking power,” is the essential component of this exercise. The downward rooted action of the elbow sinking down into the centerline, drives and rotates the body’s core.
It is essential to do this exercise relaxed while maintaining a centrally-located gaze staring straight forward. Since your body is turning, “straight forward” will change with it. In the beginning, this sets up a level of differential rotation that is critical for generating power from the shoulder and elbow and also for causing a level of relaxation to occur in the muscles of the shoulder and upper back. Make certain in the beginning not the do the movement in an abrupt or stiff fashion.
Exercise slowly and smoothly, allowing the shoulder exercise to stretch and elongate the tendons of the body. Practicing this movement for approximately 10 to 15 minutes per day is ideal, but even if one simply sets aside two minutes a day they should begin to see significant results in terms of shoulder flexibility, rotator cuff health, back strength, and relaxation. All of these are important for helping one attain their health, fitness and exercise goals.