What has two shoulders and occasionally experiences upper body tension? This yogi! If you're like most humans, it's safe to assume that there are days where shouldering the weight of the world can result in varying amounts of discomfort in the neck and upper back. Thankfully, the FeetUp Trainer is a great tool for helping to release tension in your shoulders!
For starters, we recommend that users have a minimum shoulder a span of at least 10” / 25cm to safely use the FeetUp Trainer. This typically targets younger practitioners, so this is a great opportunity for us to also share that we recommend parental supervision for all users under the age of 16.
It's perfectly natural for some to experience discomfort when first starting out a FeetUp-supported inversion practice! The most important thing to remember is that you're challenging your body to move in a way that is completely new and different than it usually does.
The most common reason for any initial discomfort is straightforward: your shoulders are simply not used to bearing your full bodyweight yet. Please note that the most important word in that statement is YET!
Patience is key and there is no rush. Give yourself enough time to find a comfortable shoulder placement up front to save yourself the hassle of having to correct bad habits down the line.
Don't grin and bear it. Enjoy the ride! What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. You may be surprised how the smallest adjustment can make a world of difference. Comfort is both a destination and a journey that will continually refine as your practice grows.
Here are a few adjustments you can make to find optimal alignment, placement, and comfort in your supported inversion practice:
What type of discomfort are you experiencing? There are typically three types of discomfort (four if you count mental): muscular, skeletal, and topical. Topical deals with the initial points of contact (clothing, skin, cushion) while the others deal with what's below the surface. Let's take a closer look:
- Muscular: We suggest relaxing the neck and shoulders instead of engaging / shrugging. It's much easier to practice the art of "trying to relax" in a basic inverted position like supported downward facing dog before taking the feet off the ground.
- Topical: Multiple layers of fabric between the skin and cushion may result in chafing, especially if there is any instability or wiggling around. Some people prefer more skin contact, while others do not. Take all of this into consideration before you invert.
- Skeletal: Arms too long? Weird pressure in your bones? Not sure what to do with your neck? Keep reading.
Is the discomfort in your arms? The ideal arm position has the elbows stacked above the wrists. Try placing your hands differently on the frame, either closer to or farther away from the cushion. For practitioners with longer arms, you can try gripping the front of the frame.
Have you tried repositioning your neck closer to or away from the back of the cushion? Some users prefer the sensation of the cervical spine cradled at the apex of the U, while others do not. Find what works best for you!
Are you at the edge of the cushion (tips of the U) and the discomfort is in the collarbones? Try sliding back away from the front so that your shoulders do not dig into the edges.
Have you tried rolling ever so slightly back more onto your shoulder blades? It’s quite possible that your body type may not enjoy direct pressure on certain part of your upper body. The shins, for example, can be quite “sharp” and require a great deal of care when doing certain balancing poses or deep stretches. The same goes for the shoulders!
For a clear step-by-step instruction on how to find proper shoulder placement, check out this incredibly relaxing video from the inventor of the FeetUp Trainer himself walking you through some helpful tips and tricks: