Shoulder Mobility

Now that this blog has been up for a while, I know there has to be some questions out there. Feel free to leave a comment at the end of any post; this one or a previous one with any questions you may have about the material that has been posted up on the blog already or anything that you may be questioning about fitness.

Why do we need mobility?

Mobility is the ability for a person to move a joint through its full range of motion (ROM).  Every joint in the body has a job to do, and if it’s mobility is compromised it will cause problems throughout the rest of the body.  And due to our technology driven society, we sit down way too much and we all are developing overuse patterns that is causing our mobility to dwindle away.

The joint by joint approach of the body stacks joints that need mobility on top of those that need stability.  Here is how this model looks:

Joint – Function

Foot – Stability
Ankle — Mobility
Knee — Stability
Hip — Mobility
Lumbar Spine — Stability
Thoracic Spine — Mobility
Scapula — Stability
Gleno-Humeral Joint — Mobility
Elbow — Stability

The areas above that you see with mobility are the areas in which we need it the most, and once mobility is lost in that area it causes a decrease in stability in its neighboring joints.  Meaning if the ankles lose mobility, the knee and foot will lose stability in order to make up for the lacking range of motion at the ankle.  This, in turn, will cause mobility problems in the hip and affect the joints going up similar to a ripple effect.

If we are sitting down all day, and our hip flexors get overly tight, causing our glutes to turn off, as well as us to be hunched forward causing us to lose stability through the rotator cuff and loss of upward rotation of the scapulae pain will surely follow.

This is the major reason why mobility training becomes important.  It will help keep us pain free, more functional to attack the tasks of everyday life and better posture makes us all look and feel better.

So why aren’t you doing your mobility training?

Here is an example of what I do for mobility, and it will be a vast improvement towards every person’s training. It may not be quite specific to each individual who tries it but I am sure it will help make a difference in your mobility and posture.  And that will have a direct carry over to your exercises.  Every person should be able to achieve full range of motion in every joint, during every movement PAIN FREE.

Want an even better reason to do upper body mobility training?

It will help improve your strength.  As your mobility gets better watch your deadlift, bench, squat and any other lift imaginable become easier which will make you stronger.  This is what all of us want and need and this should be including all you ladies.  Gather the proper mobility and you can be squatting and deadlifting like kings and queens.

Pec Stretch

  1. Pec Major
  • Place both arms in a doorway at ninety degree angles.
  • Squeeze your scapulae back as hard as you can and lean as far forward as your scapulae lets you.
  • Feel your chest stretch

2.  Pec Minor

  • Place both arms on the wall, hands down by the hips.
  • Squeeze your scapulae together as hard as you can and lean as far forward as you can.
  • As a note, you will not feel this stretch a lot, but it is working for you.  So keep doing it!

Lat Stretch

  • Grab hold of a sturdy object with one arm.
  • Step back with the same leg that is holding the object.
  • Lean back into the back leg, pulling on the object in order to feel the entire lat stretch from armpit to hip.

Wall Slides

  • First off, we must make sure we set up correctly.  Keep your feet about six inches away from the wall.
  • Flatten your lower back into the wall by doing a posterior pelvic tilt.
  • Arms ninety degrees, back of arm, hand and fingers should all be touching the wall.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together, and down towards the back pockets.
  • Lift your arms overhead while keeping the lower back on the wall, and all points of contact with the arms and hands.
  • And don’t forget to keep the shoulders away from the ears as you drive up, and make a stupid face as you see above.

This is not an exercise to cheat in to get higher.  Just go up as high as your mobility allows.  Cheating will not get you better mobility.  So stay as strict as possible and feel that stretch in the middle of your back.  This is T-Spine activation after all.

Foam Roller T-Spine Extensions

Here is another great T-Spine mobility drill.  This is great to help get that extension necessary to squat and deadlift big.

  • Lay on your back with the foam roller right under the shoulder blades.
  • Wrap your fingers around your head, and pull your elbows together.  This will keep you from cheating by leaning your head backwards.
  • Make sure your butt stays on the floor at all times.
  • Pull your ribs towards the floor, and lean as far back as you can. You may get your back to crack here and should feel a nice stretch in the middle of your back.

Shoulder Complex

This is a great stretch; it will help open up all your internal and external rotators.  You will get the lats, the pecs and almost everything else in between.

  • Lay on your side, bottom leg straight and top leg bent ninety degrees on a medicine ball or foam roller.
  • Drive your knee hard into the ball and rotate your upper shoulders towards the floor.  This will give you the appearance of lying on your back.  This is not a low back stretch.  You should not get any movement here from your lower back.  This is why that knee drive is important.
  • Point both arms to the ceiling and pack the scaps.
  • The working side is the same side you have placed on the ball.
  • While keeping the scap packed we will move our arm in three directions.  East to west, diagonal from knee to outside (south east to north west and vice versa) shoulder width, and north to south.

Over Head Squat

  • Place your feet wider then shoulder width.
  • Arms above your head, behind or lined up with your ears.
  • Squat down, not allowing the knees to buckle or pass the tips of the toes.

Windmills

These many of you will not be able to do right away.  It takes a lot of thoracic mobility.  Practice without weight first until you are sure that your technique is perfect.  Then you can load, without having to worry about breaking your lower back.

  • Set up your feet hip width apart.
  • Turn your feet forty five degrees away from the arm that is pointing to the ceiling.
  • Hip hinge back, keeping 75% of your weight on the back leg.
  • Keep the scap packed the whole time, from beginning to end.
  • Feel the back hip stretch and the weight sit in the shoulders and lats.

Putting it Together

When it comes to doing mobility, we need to do four things in a specific order:

1.     Foam roll.  If you are not sure how to refer back to here.

2.     Stretch.  Just gently.  Refer to pec and lat stretch.

3.     Mobility drills.  Gets the nervous system fired up and allows us to get the body into its full range of motion.  Almost like waking up the joints.

4.     Sticking the movement.  This is where we load ourselves lightly in the patterns we were trying to mobilize.  This allows the body to take its newer range of motion and apply it into a movement that uses this same range of motion.  By doing this the body understands better what the goal of stretching and mobility drills really are.  And this is how we actually get better ROM and keep it that way day in and day out.

Was this post helpful, enlightening, the purest, greatest thing you ever read?  Do you do mobility training? If so, what do you do?  Let me know; leave a comment below!


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