If you haven’t looked at yourself in the mirror yet, stop whatever you are doing and do it! Just kidding, but hopefully you have a good idea of how your shoulders/arms look in a static and moving position by now so you can scroll through this blog and find what you need to do to get that good shoulder position. I know Part 1 and Part 2 went into a lot of detail of things that could be tight/weak/dysfunctional, but going back to the basics is the best way to help direct how to fix these problems. Part 3 is the final portion of the shoulder analysis that will look at how to get and maintain a good shoulder position. Look at which category you fall under (it may be many of them) and take a look at the suggestions on how to achieve that good shoulder position (because now you want that good position at all times right?!?!)
* with all of the following recommendations, make sure you first pull your shoulder back into a good position first before stretching/mobilizing. It’s easy to compensate while stretching too and that just defeats the purpose.
Forward, rounded shoulders (or just one)
- Pecs are probably tight so stretch them out in a doorway (as seen in the
- Lacrosse ball works nice on the pecs too, up against a pole so you can really pin and move your arms in different directions…..good demo from K-Starr here
- Keep reminding yourself about good posture, sitting up tall and keeping your shoulder blades in your back pocket. You can also do shoulder blades squeezes throughout the day to help activate and strengthen those good posture muscles, but make sure the movement is coming from your shoulder blades and not your arms.
- If your shoulders are rounded, I bet your lats are tight too. Grab onto a low pull-up bar at the gym, palms up, and lean back into a stretch for your lats. (Good image of this in Creative Mobility in a doorway)
When I look at myself in the mirror, my palms (or just one) are facing back instead of facing my side.
- Tight lats and internal rotators of the shoulder. Usually ties along with a rounded shoulder and can be fixed just like the suggestions above.
- Shoulder range and positional inhibition (K-Starr)…..great stretch to reverse that internal rotation position.
When I stand with my back against the wall (midline stabile) and raise my arms overhead………well I just can’t do it without arching my back
- If you can’t do this, how do you expect to do anything overhead without arching your back? Shoulder flexion is what you need to work on, while keeping your midline stabile. I will bend like a reed in the wind (K-Starr) – you have all probably seen this already, but probably the best one to gain shoulder flexion IF YOU KEEP YOUR SHOULDERS BACK WHILE YOU ARE STRETCHING.
- Your thoracic spine may also be tight, so rolling on the foam roller can help with this too…..Shoulder what to fix first (K-Starr)
- Fix that anterior deltoid because it’s probably tight from that forward shoulder…..Great new shoulder fix – internal rotation tack and stretch (K-Starr)
- Free your ribs, your mind will follow (K-Starr) – great explanation of how the ribs affect your shoulder mobility.
When I stand with my arms 90 degrees out to my side and internally rotate both of them, my range is terrible or my shoulders roll forward to achieve the range.
- Your external rotators are probably tight, so get into the back of your shoulder right above your arm pit with the lacrosse ball. Once you find a tight spot, move your shoulder back and forth from internal rotation to external rotation.
- The front of your shoulder is probably tight and pulling you forward, to follow the above suggestions for forward shoulder
- Great new shoulder fix – internal rotation tack and stretch (K-Starr)….anterior deltoid
- The pitcher’s stretch helps to stretch out the shoulder capsule and gain internal rotation (image below)
I can pull my shoulders back, but they don’t stay that way throughout the WOD
- Usually due to weak external rotators of the shoulder, so start doing your alphabet series (demo video at the bottom of the the shoulder page)
- Sometimes this is just from laziness during a WOD, which we are all guilty of. It’s important to constantly remind yourself to pull them back and keep your shoulders active for good form, just like any other exercise. Otherwise you are just strengthening in a poor position and feeding into the vicious injury/decreased efficiency cycle. Exercising with bad form just feeds into the bad positions that have been mentioned during the last 3 weeks.
- Great video by K-Starr on keeping good shoulder position during a dip…..Chesticles
I LIVE to bench press…..it is my life
- Knock it off. This just feeds into the forward, rounded shoulders with abducted scapulae.
- Say hello to your back muscles and balance yourself out (pull-ups, ring rows, etc.).
- This guy also loves to workout his upper traps, which everyone knows is overrated because it usually creates dysfunction of the shoulder. There are no arrows pointing to his rotator cuff, which makes me think he ignore his little muscles.
Exercise modifications while you are working on achieving good shoulder position
- Anything overhead will probably put your shoulder at risk for injury and compensations, so try to avoid them while working on your good shoulder position. I know this is a bold statement, but if you love your shoulders you will thank me later. Replace with push-ups or ring rows. Maybe pull-ups if your shoulder range overhead is not a problem.
- Modified kettle bell swings to shoulder height….anything above shoulder height puts A LOT of stress on already stressed shoulders.
- If your shoulders keep falling forward during a ring dip, STOP and get a stronger band to support your body weight so you can practice good form.
- If your elbows swing out during push-ups you are moving into internal rotation = more stress on the shoulder. Think active, external rotation even during your push-ups. If you can’t do that, drop to your knees until to can maintain good form.
When I first started CF I had some pretty bad left shoulder pain. I had a classmate look at it and noticed that my range was REALLY limited, but I didn’t see it because I could get to the range I needed with all kinds of compensations. I was guilty of the upper trap syndrome where my left upper trap kicked in and was over working with every exercise I did overhead. So I decided to stop all overhead movements and work on my mobility, as well as work on the strength of the little muscles in my shoulder. Unfortunately, life/school took over and I was not great at practicing what I preach. However, because I love my shoulder and want it to be working for a long long time, I continued to avoid overhead movements. I may have been a little over protective, but I’ve seen too many messed up shoulders and don’t really want to experience that.
The last 3 months without a gym helped give me the time I needed to really focus on my mobility and little muscle strength, and I can honestly say that my shoulder range has improved so much (Cody as my witness) Not perfect, but on it’s way! I just did my first weighted overhead workout in……6 months? And my left shoulder felt pretty good, although I still have some compensations to work on. The take home message of me sharing my experience is that it took me 3 months of dedication to my shoulder to really get it working properly. There should be no rest days from mobility. Thank you Bawston fa helpin me get my shoulda range back!
** If you have any questions or comments about this I would be more than happy to chat….I will be around the gym more often starting next week or you can shoot me an e-mail.
Workout of the Day 10/7/2011
A. Deadlifts 5-5-5
Slam Ball (30/20)
40M Broad Jump
Firebreather WOD (6PM Only)
3 Pull-ups (Chest to bar/kipping)
6 Ring Push-ups
9 Front Squat (95/65)
The clock will start and you must complete 15 muscle ups (ring dips for girls) before you can begin your workout. The AMRAP clock will continuously run meaning that the longer you take to do your muscle ups or ring dips, the less time you have to do your AMRAP. The ring push-ups will be performed with feet on a 45 lbs plate and chest must touch an Abmat.