I have studied countless athletes over the years. When they walk into the gym the first 2 things I look at is how their feet are positioned when standing and how they hold their shoulders. In 5 minutes of a consultation I can usually have a pretty good understanding of their athletic ability and a snapshot of their past. The shoulders play a huge role in our health and it is imperative to keep them flexible and strong. As we spend more and more time in front of our computers, there is a tragic postural change that is happening which is hurting our ability to perform even the most mundane of physical tasks.
Just like your hips, your shoulder girdle is a complex system of muscles that allow the ‘ball and socket’ joint to move in dynamic motion across many planes. So lets briefly begin with some anatomy. Your shoulders are connected to muscles in front of the body, behind the body and muscles that literally bisect the body from front to back. If the muscles of this system are unbalanced, then it can throw off how your shoulders arm and back operate.
Taking a minute to do a bathroom selfie can do wonders for self analysis.
Here are some key things I look at when doing a consultation.
1. Is the back over arched when standing? I see many bodybuilders who have developed their lats (the big wings on your back) so much that it shuts off certain muscles in the shoulder and can make it weak.
2. Do the shoulders roll forward when standing? Desk Jockies beware, constant habit creates permanent position. By sitting at a desk hunched over the computer we see the muscles of the chest shortening and pitching the shoulders forward. This leads to back problems as the upper back begins to develop a rounded posture.
3. Is the base of the neck to the shoulder flat? The shoulders are meant to do many things including pulling. It is important to have balanced training which allows for flexibility and strength to be developed in the upper back and trapezius to ensure the spine is supported and injury is mitigated.
Strength training aside, some simple stretches can help keep the posture aligned and muscles balanced.
1. Foam Rolling.
Place the Foam roller length wise down the spine. Laying flat on the Foam Roller, allow the arms to fall to the floor. Relax and feel the weight of the arms pulling the chest open and the front of the shoulders stretching. If you are someone who sits a lot or is very tall, this is a great stretch to keep the chest and front of the shoulder from collapsing and rounding forward.
2. Table Top Stretch.
Find a table or desk that sits approximately at waist height. Fold forward at the hips with the palm face down on the table. Pull the hips backward and reach the head down towards the belly button. The stretch will be felt in the back of the shoulder down the Lats and all the way through the arm and biceps. As I noted before, having a dominance of the ‘Lats’ can shut off muscles of the shoulder. Keeping the back from being too tight can help the shoulders stay mobile.
3. Bully Stretch.
By far this is my favorite stretch for the shoulders. Place one hand behind the back as high as it can reach. Keeping the back flat, reach the free hand up and over the head and gentle pull it over to the side. This stretch is felt in the front of the shoulder and all the way through the neck. If you are someone who gets chronic stress headaches or sleeps on your side, this will unlock a lot of the problems. PRO TIP: Use a resistance band attached to a door or pull up bar to assist the hand behind the back reach even further.
4. Internal Rotation Stretch. (Sleeper Stretch)
Lay on your side with the bottom elbow pointing away from the body. Place a towel under the elbow. Keeping the elbow in place, bend the elbow at 90 degrees and rotate the shoulder up and down. Use the top hand to gentle assist in pushing the palm towards the ground. A healthy shoulder should have both ‘internal’ and ‘external’ range of motion. This stretch is good for rotator cuff health especially if you are about to put it to use helping your friends on the Tough Mudder Course.
5. Buy a Lacrosse ball.
Trigger Point Mobility is a way to target the muscles of the shoulder using a simple device like a tennis ball or lacrosse ball. If you have a area that is nagging you like the upper back or you want to stimulate the muscles of the shoulder prior to a workout, then the Lacrosse Ball is your new best friend. PRO TIP: If you are rehabbing an injury or priming the muscle for use, DO NOT OVERDO it. You dont want to risk damaging the muscle by beating it up. :45 on a spot, rolling over it is perfect.
A good rule of thumb is that if you want to increase flexibility then you have to USE the joint. I encourage not only a a good mobility and strength program fro healthy shoulders but get outside and use them. Go climb a wall, lift heavy things, throw stuff. It all is good for you. There is no stopping your ability except fro your will to do it. So go and be great!
Programming Notes 7/15-7/19 ** Continuing with Supersets and Aerobic Power Intervals this week. When you see the combination of slower and more controlled movements like on Thursday and Friday, take consideration in the explosive or controlled nature of the exact exercise and demand that from the body. Dont push too hard, but learn to maintain intensity and know when to apply maximal force and when to back off. Train hard, and good luck.
12 Kettlebell Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
:15 Ring Support Top
:15 Ring Support bottom
12 KB Sumo Deadlift High Pull
Power Clean Warm Up W// Barbell:
7 @ Each
-Bent Over Row
-High hang Muscle Clean
-Mid Thigh Power Clean
-Below The Knee Pausing Clean
Power Clean Complex:
Every :90 for 7 Rounds
2 Clean Deadlift
1 Hang Power from Below Knee
1 Hang Power Above Knee
1 Touch and Go Power Clean
Squat Clean 135/95
250 m Row
12 Goblet Squat
10 KB Windmills
20 2ct. Mtn Climbers
Bulgarian Split Squats
Super Set With
Barbell Roll Outs
10 Overhead Squats 115/75
10 Box Jumps 24/20
5:00 of Assault Bike
8 Inchworm Push ups
10 Air Squats
12 Hip Bridge + Hold :02
14 Single Arm KB Swing (light)
20 Minute Ascending Ladder
Toes TO bar
Kettlebell Snatch 53/35
Cals on Air Runner
-Rest as needed-
12 Kip Swings
10 Reverse Hand Push Ups
8 Supine Ring Row
6 V Ups
4 DiveBomber Push Ups
Super Set With
Barbell Bent Rows
For Total Time
D Ball Ground to Overhead 110/70#
25 Cal Bike
10 Lateral Banded Monster Walks
10 Single Leg Banded Heel Kicks
10 Single Leg lateral banded kicks
10 Elbow TO instep Lunges W/ Reach
Squat Flow: Squat Flow: Kang Squat, Internal Rotation, Ankle Roll Out, Bootstraps, PNF Stretch, Squat W/ T Spine Stretch
10 Rounds of
5 Dumbbell Devils Press 50/35
10 Dumbbell Box Step up and Over
15 GHD Sit Up