Shoulder relaxation exercise

The following text is taken from Conference Interpreting – A Student’s Practice Book by Andrew Gillies (p350) Routledge,  2013 and the exercise itself was borrowed from an AIIC Voice Coaching workshop given to interpreters by Ailsa Gudgeon

Shoulder melting

Aim: relax the shoulders and neck

You will need: a quiet darkened room

Both simultaneous and consecutive interpreting, or rather the postures we adopt when doing them, are likely to create a great deal of tension in the shoulders. This exercise is the perfect remedy.

Stand in a quiet darkened room with the lights dimmed or off. Make sure you have enough space in front, behind and above you to swing you arms around in a windmill.

Start by pretending to throw a ball with your right arm as hard as you can. First underarm and then overarm, 4 or 5 times each. Then swing your arm around front to back in a large circle, first in one direction, and then in the other. Stop and allow your arm to hang down by your side. You should feel pins and needles in your finger tips. Close your eyes and tip your head to the right so that your ear is vertically above the fingers of your right hand. Concentrate on the pins and needles sensation in your finger tips.

That sensation will start moving slowly up your hand, first to your knuckles, then to the palm of the hand and the wrist. Keep your eyes closed and follow the sensation of pins and needles up your hand. Go nice and slowly. There’s no hurry. Now feel the sensation moving up your forearm, very slowly, and eventually reaching the bottom of your elbow. Feel it in all of your elbow. The pins and needles may gradually subside, but you should still feel very clearly the part of your arm you’re concentrating on. The rest of the arm is a dead weight, just hanging below your elbow and ear.

Move up to the top side of your elbow and your upper arm. Very slowly draw your focus, and the sensation, up the upper arm to the shoulder. Feel the different combinations of muscles in your shoulder and how they slowly melt as you come up your arm.

The rest of the arm is a dead weight, just hanging below your elbow and ear. Keep your focus on your shoulder for a bit longer. Now slowly lift the head to vertical without moving the arm or shoulder at all.If you have a mirror or window nearby have a look at your reflection. Your rights houlder may now be visibly lower than your left. That’s how much tension there was in your shoulders! Now do the same for the other arm!

Source: Gudgeon