Elbows Low Exercise

Posted by Stuart Herbert on February 21st, 2010 in Podcast, Principles, Technique.

This blog post was originally published as a podcast in June 2009. I’m slowly transcribing all of my podcasts, to share them with my readers who either cannot play podcasts on their computer, or who simply prefer reading instead of listening.

We’ve just done the Tuesday night class – the Improvers’ class – and tonight we did a recap of the principle of Elbows Low, which was highly entertaining for everybody, and quite informative too I hope.

The main thing we were looking at with Elbows Low tonight was the idea that, in order to keep your elbows low, it’s all about relaxing the shoulders as much as possible; getting the tension out of the shoulders. This results in the elbow naturally falling by your side [in much the same way that your hips naturally tilt forward if you eliminate the tension in the lower back – Ed].

We also looked at situations where the elbow is raised up. There’s a great exercise for this to let you feel the difference between what we’re looking for with Elbows Low and what to avoid. The question always is: if your elbow is not held at your side, but is deliberately held up in the air, how can that possibly be Elbows Low? The exercise, very simply, is to hold your right arm out in front of you, turn the right hand out, so that wrist and elbow are at the same height forming a bar facing to your right. From that position, raise the wrist a little bit to ensure your wrist is higher than your elbow. Take a moment to feel what that’s like at the shoulder. That doesn’t feel too bad I hope, unless you’ve had shoulder surgery or you’ve got a damaged shoulder, at which point you’ve got to learn to work within your own particular limits.

To compare and contrast this, instead of raising the wrist to be higher than the elbow, raise the elbow to be higher than the wrist. Can you feel the extra tension that has now entered the shoulder? That tension limits the mobility of the shoulder. It unbalances you as well because your shoulder has had to rise in order to bring the elbow higher than the wrist and, I’m willing to bet, that for a lot of people listening to this podcast, if someone was to stand in front of you and look at you, they’d see that you’re now leaning to one side because of the raised shoulder. It’s very disruptive to your bio-mechanical structure, just by making the elbow too high.

That’s just a little exercise we did tonight in the class to show how Elbows Low works.