Shoulder mobility is important for your health and fitness, and we have found that almost all of our clients are lacking in certain areas of their shoulder health.
Integrated Mobility work performed before and/or after each working set of strength work helps to develop and maintain healthy connective tissues and serve to help keep us injury and pain free.
In this blog post we will focus on shoulder flexion, which is one component of shoulder health most often overlooked, especially in our adult population.
The ability to bring your arms overhead is how we will define shoulder flexion.
For optimal shoulder health and performance, you should be able to raise your arms all the way up above your head while squeezing your shoulders towards your ears.
The inability to do so is a result of being tight in the lats, upper back, chest, and arms. If you have restriction in these muscles, then you are likely to arch your back when reaching overhead.
This compensation can often lead to lower back pain and discomfort.
A simple way to test your shoulder flexion is to stand with your back against a wall with your feet roughly 12 inches from the base of the wall. Press your entire back against the wall by tucking your pelvis under and pulling your ribs in towards the spine. Raise your arms forward and up as far as you can without any part of your back coming off the wall. Try to reach the wall behind you with your hands.
The inability to reach the wall indicates poor shoulder flexion, which can be improved with integrated mobility exercises that we will discuss below.
Here is a list of our basic Shoulder Flexion Integrated Mobility Movements that that serve about 95% of our clients well for the first 6 months of their mobility journey:
Seated Shoulder Flexion Hold
Supine Floor Handstand Flexion Hold
Prone Floor Handstand Flexion Hold
Prone Floor Handstand Flexion Reps
The Seated Shoulder Flexion Hold is the movement we want to master first, before progressing to more advanced movements like the Floor Handstand Flexion series.
The Seated Shoulder Flexion Hold helps to train and develop proper shoulder flexion.
Pain when stretching is not a good thing, as that can be a sign that the body is not quite ready to use that range of motion yet... so do not reach a level of pain, but mild discomfort.
The Seated Shoulder Flexion Hold is a great preparatory movement to help prepare the shoulder for more advanced shoulder flexion movements
Keep the chest up tall, and squeeze the back muscles as you attempt to elevate the bar as high up and as far behind you as possible.
We like to perform the Supine Floor Handstand Flexion Hold as a our second preparatory movement (integrated mobility for shoulder flexion) to help develop proper overhead positioning and overall back and shoulder health.
We include this hold as part of our integrated mobility work, but this can also be used as a "strength" developer as well.
Add a load to your implement as you progress, but make sure that a solid hollow body position, with lower back driving into the floor, is prioritized over opening up the shoulder joint.
We like to perform the Prone Floor Handstand Flexion Hold once we have developed competency in the Supine Floor Handstand Flexion Hold.
Add a load to your implement as you progress, but make sure that you are not over extending in your lower back.
Focus on keeping the implement in line with your shoulders and attempt to drive your implement as far away from you as possible.
The strength and stability of the movement should come from your "mid to upper" back muscles and the musculature helping to support your shoulder girdle.
The Prone Floor Handstand Flexion for Reps is one of our favorite movement to help teach proper firing of the mid and upper back muscles, and serves as a great preparatory movement before we jump on the wall and in a Handstand and helps to teach proper overhead barbell positioning.
Take a look at this video below for a more detailed explanation of the differences between our Supine and Prone Handstand Flexion movements.
Other movements that you can play around with that we have found have also helped to develop shoulder extension mobility and stability:
Group Class Programming for Monday September 17th, 2018:
Strategies For Improving Shoulder Extension Mobility and Strength
Spicy Kale Potato Breakfast Hash
Client Profile: The Incredible Katie Boes