How You Might Be Acting Like Barbie (Or Ken) and Why You Should Stop.

Beach Fashion Shoot

Do you think your shoulders are like a Barbie’s? Or Ken’s?

If you think of them being ball and socket joints, then the answer is yes.

Your hip joints are ball and socket joints, but your shoulders are more complex. (And subsequently, more versatile!) Instead of 2 bones articulating at one joint, your shoulders are comprised of 3 bones which create 6-ish joints. I say -ish because not every anatomy source agrees on the number.

Wikipedia will tell you there are 3 joints:

upper arm (aka humerus) – shoulder blade (aka scapula)

scapula – collar bone (aka clavicle)

clavicle – breast bone (aka sternum)
Gray206 sternumHumerus




















We’re going to be more precise and say there are 6 joints within each shoulder:

humerus – scapula (articulating specifically with the glenoid fossa)

humerus – scapula (articulating specifically with the acromium process)

scapula – clavicle

clavicle – articular disc

articular disc – sternum

scapula – ribcage













Why does it matter how I think my shoulders work?

I’ll give you two reasons:

1. Range of motion – Barbie and Ken can only move their arms forward and back. With a ball and socket joint, you couldn’t reach across your body to put on your seat belt or rub sunscreen between your shoulders and the back of your neck. Pretend you have Barbie shoulders and try driving your car. (Spoiler alert: you won’t be turning any corners.) Neglecting the involvement of your clavicles and scapulae (the plural form of scapula) significantly limits your arm movement options.

2. Relaxed stability – Last night I was driving with my middle son when Pearl Jam’s ‘Jeremy’ came on the radio. I proceeded to take my hands off the steering wheel and raise my arms in a V while singing along (my son chastised me for doing this). Can Barbie and Ken do this? Yes, they can raise their arms in a V, but what exactly is holding them up there? In theory (‘cuz they’re plastic), it’d be their muscles, which would tire out pretty quickly. Your super cool shoulder girdle, on the other hand, allows your upper arm to rest in the cup-shaped socket of your scapula as it slides down and under to catch the convex head of your humerus. This enables your muscles to work smarter, not harder like Barb & K’s.

If you want more range of motion, better stability, and more efficient muscle movement, get to know your shoulder girdle!

You can learn all about your shoulder girdle and incorporate that knowledge into a resistance band workout to improve your flexibility, strength, and overall health of your shoulders in my online shoulder class. Click here to find out if this class is right for you and your super cool shoulder girdle.


image credit: Holly

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