Home Posts tagged "Rotator Cuff Exercises"

Checks and Balances in the Shoulder of the Throwing Athlete

For today's guest post, I've collaborated with physical therapist Eric Schoenberg, one of my co-presenters at the Elite Baseball Mentorship. Enjoy! -EC

The #1 reason why a player or team does not succeed in baseball is injury. Today, there is a surplus of information, but at the same time a lack of basic understanding of how to keep a baseball player healthy. When in doubt, you can never go wrong by understanding and relying upon anatomy and quality human movement.

One key principle to understand in this regard is that there is a tremendous system of checks and balances working at the shoulder girdle to make sure that we control both the big movements (osteokinematics) and subtle joint movements (arthrokinematics) in a small window for health and performance. If we look to anatomy, we can appreciate a very important concept by looking at the attachment points for the deltoid, latissimus dorsi, and pectoralist major: your three biggest prime movers in the upper extremity. You'll notice that all three attach on the shaft of the humerus, not the humeral head. Take a look at their attachment sites on this anatomical chart, and then compare them to where the rotator cuff (supraspinatus, subscapularis, teres major, and teres minor) attach further up on the humeral head.

Source: http://howtorelief.com/humerus-anatomy-bony-landmarks-muscle-attachment/

You can appreciate that all these big muscles attach on the anterior (front) aspect of the humerus, which means that they have powerful pulls into internal rotation that have to be counteracted by fewer, smaller muscles that attach on the posterior (back) aspect of the shoulder.

Here are three specific implications of these anatomical observations that relate to how you manage your throwing athletes:

1. The Deltoid is strong/active enough!

The deltoid works in conjunction with the supraspinatus to form a “force couple.”

Source: www.MikeReinold.com

If the strength, recruitment, or timing of the deltoid is greater than the supraspinatus, then the result will be superior migration of the humeral head in the glenoid. This results in superior humeral head stress (chondral defect), undersurface rotator cuff tear, labral pathology, among other structural injuries to the glenohumeral joint.

Tip: Be sure that athletes feel rotator cuff strengthening exercises in the cuff and not the deltoid or biceps.

2. The lat is strong/active enough!

The lat (as it acts on the scapula) is opposed by the serratus anterior, lower trapezius, and upper trapezius to control scapular rotation. Increased relative stiffness of the lat results in excessive scapular depression and downward rotation at rest.

Additionally, if you have decreased activation or muscle performance of the scapular upward rotators and elevators with overhead motion, the outcome will be inferior migration of the glenoid on the humeral head.

This results in superior humeral head stress (chondral defect), undersurface rotator cuff tear, labral pathology, among other structural injuries to the glenohumeral joint.

Tip: Be sure that the athlete’s programs have a good balance of overhead reaching tasks done with proper mechanics and timing of the glenohumeral and scapulothoracic joints.

3. The pecs are strong/active enough!

Pectoralis major's impact on the anterior glenohumeral joint is opposed by the rotator cuff to prevent anterior humeral glide. Effectively, the pec and lats want to pull the ball forward on the socket as the arm goes through gross movements, and the rotator cuff works hard to prevent this gliding at the joint level.

Dominance of pec major over the rotator cuff muscles (namely subscapularis) will play a role in an athlete presenting with anterior humeral glide. We often hear the athlete report “tightness” in the front of the shoulder and their first option is to "stretch it."

This can lead to anterior shoulder pain and potential structural pathology including anterior joint laxity, biceps tendon pathology, and labral pathology – all common injuries in throwing athletes.

Tip: Rather than trying to decrease the “tightness” in the front of the shoulder by aggressively stretching—instead, focus on improving static alignment, proprioceptive awareness, and recruitment of the cuff. If you couple this with some self-massage work, this approach will yield far more favorable results.

In closing, the shoulder joint is happiest when alignment is optimal. Injury will occur if preferred alignment is altered. Examples of altered alignment at rest or with movement are the humeral head is riding too high in the socket, the socket is riding too low on the humeral head, or the humerus is gliding too far forward. The resultant stress to the active or passive restraints of the shoulder leads to injury and loss of playing time. Do yourself (and the players that you work with) a favor and master the basics to help improve success on the field.

Looking to learn more about our unique approach to assessing and managing throwing athletes? Check out the upcoming Elite Baseball Mentorship Upper Extremity Course on January 14-16, 2018. For more information, click here.  The early-bird registration discount ends tonight at midnight.

About the Co-Author

Eric Schoenberg (@PTMomentum) is a physical therapist and strength coach located in Milford, MA where he is co-owner of Momentum Physical Therapy. Eric is addicted to baseball and plays a part in the Elite Baseball Mentorship Seminars at Cressey Sports Performance. He can be reached at eric@momentumpt.com.
 

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Should You “Balance” Your Pushes and Your Pulls?

Yesterday, I posted on social media about how I think the concept of balancing pushes with pulls in your programming is outdated. It received some hefty debate, so I thought I'd delve into the topic a bit further in today's video.

Also, just a friendly reminder that our entire Functional Stability Training series is on sale for 25% off through Cyber Monday at midnight. For more details, check out www.FunctionalStability.com. No coupon code is necessary.

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Optimizing and Progressing Arm Care

The prone horizontal abduction - also known as a "T" - is well known as a popular arm care exercise that has been around for decades. Unfortunately, it's commonly performed incorrectly. In today's video, I cover the most common mistakes - and then add a progression I like to use with folks once they've mastered the technique. Check it out:

Keep in mind that these cues also apply to "T" drills you perform with bands, TRX, or any other implements as well.  

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Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training – Installment 29

I didn't get in a May installment of this series, but the good news is that it gave me two months to gather my thoughts for a big June! Here goes...

1. Athleticism is doesn't have to be max effort if you have a strength and power "reserve."

Cressey Sports Performance athlete Logan Morrison is currently second in Major League Baseball in homeruns. I came across this video of #22 on Twitter and it immediately got me thinking:

Hitting bombs in the big leagues - particularly on 95mph sinkers - is really challenging, but that looked absurdly easy. He put some force into the ground, got himself in a good position to succeed, and athleticism "happened."

The only reason this is possible is that he's developed a strength and power "reserve." LoMo is strong - and more importantly, he's a powerful dude. When he throws a medicine ball, in many cases, the entire gym stops and watches because it sounds like he's going to knock the wall down. When you've got a foundation of strength and know how to use it quickly, this kind of easy athleticism happens. It does not, however, happen if you're a) weak or b) strong and not powerful. I'd call LoMo a nice blend on the absolute strength-to-speed continuum.

2. If you're struggling to feel external rotation exercises in the right place, try this quick and easy fix.

One of the reason some throwers struggle to "keep the biceps" quiet during external rotation drills is that they start too close to the end-range for external rotation. A quick strategy to improve this is to simply build a little success in a more internally rotated position. This video goes into more depth:

3. Be cautiously optimistic with new surgical advances.

On a pretty regular basis, we hear about remarkable sports medicine breakthroughs that will revolutionize the way we prevent and treat both acute and chronic diseases and injuries/conditions. Unfortunately, they usually don't live up to the hype. Most of the time, we're talking about a "miracle" supplement or drug, but sometimes, we have to ponder the benefits of a new surgical procedure.

In the mid 1990s, the thermal capsulorrhaphy procedure was introduced to attempt to treat shoulder instability. It gained some momentum in the few years that followed, but the outcomes didn't match the hype in spite of the fact that the initial theory seemed decent (heat can shorten capsular tissues, which would theoretically increase shoulder stability). Failure rates were just too high.

Conversely, in 1974, Dr. Frank Jobe revolutionized the way elbow pain was treated in baseball pitchers - and saved a lot of careers - when he performed the first successful ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (better known as Tommy John Surgery). More than 1/4 of MLB pitchers have had Tommy John, so you could say that this procedure revolutionized sports medicine even though it's taken decades to fine-tune it.

More recently, a new surgery - the UCL repair with internal brace -  has been gaining some steam as an alternative to Tommy John surgery. The initial results have been very promising, particularly in situations where the patient is a good match (depending on age, activity level, and location and extent of the UCL tear). I've actually seen two of these surgeries in the past week myself. One pitcher (Seth Maness) was able to successfully return to the Major Leagues after having it - but we still have a long way to go to determine if it might someday dramatically reduce the number of Tommy John surgeries that take place. Why? 

Right now, we only have statistics on a limited number of these cases, and they're usually in the high school and college realms. All that is reported on is return to previous level of competition (e.g., varsity baseball). We don't know whether a kid that has it at age 16 is still thriving with a healthy elbow at age 22 during his senior year of college.

Additionally, Seth Maness has really been an 88-90mph pitcher throughout his MLB career. We don't know if this same level of success will be seen with 95-100mph flamethrowers. 

Dr. Jeffrey Dugas has become known as "the guy" when it comes to these procedures, and I loved the fact that he reiterated "cautious optimism" in his webinar at the American Sports Medicine Institute Injuries in Baseball course earlier this year. If this gets rolled out too quickly and in the wrong populations, the failure rate could be significantly higher and give an otherwise effective surgery a bad name.  I think it's important for all of us to stay on top of sports medicine research to make sure we don't miss out on these advancements, but also so that we know to be informed consumers so that we don't jump behind new innovations without having all the information we need.

Speaking of the ASMI Injuries in Baseball Course, it's on sale for $100 off through this Sunday, June 24, at midnight. I've enjoyed going through this collection of webinars, and I'm sure you will, too. You can check it out HERE.

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Washington, DC Seminar Announcement: September 17, 2017

I just wanted to give you a heads-up on one-day seminar with me in Washington, DC on Sunday, September 17, 2017.

Cressey scapula

We’ll be spending the day geeking out on shoulders, as the event will cover Shoulder Assessment, Corrective Exercise, and Programming.  The event will be geared toward personal trainers, strength and conditioning professionals, rehabilitation specialists, and fitness enthusiasts alike.

Agenda

9:00AM-9:30AM – Inefficiency vs. Pathology (Lecture)
9:30AM-10:15AM – Understanding Common Shoulder Injuries and Conditions (Lecture)
10:15AM-10:30AM – Break
10:30AM-12:30PM – Upper Extremity Assessment (Lab)
12:30PM-1:30PM – Lunch
1:30PM-3:30PM – Upper Extremity Mobility/Activation/Strength Drills (Lab)
3:30PM-3:45PM – Break
3:45PM-4:45PM – Upper Extremity Strength and Conditioning Programming: What Really Is Appropriate? (Lecture)
4:45PM-5:00PM – Q&A to Wrap Up

Location

Beyond Strength Performance NOVA
21620 Ridgetop Circle
Suite 100
Dulles, VA 20166  

Continuing Education Credits

The event has been approved for 0.7 CEUs (7 contact hours) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

Cost:

SOLD OUT! Please email ec@ericcressey.com if you'd like to be added to the waiting list in case a spot opens up.

Note: we'll be capping the number of participants to ensure that there is a lot of presenter/attendee interaction - particularly during the hands-on workshop portion - so be sure to register early, as the previous offering sold out well in advance of the early-bird registration deadline.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Questions? Please email ec@ericcressey.com.

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New York Seminar Announcement: August 20, 2017

I just wanted to give you a heads-up on one-day seminar with me in New York on Sunday, August 20, 2017.

Cressey scapula

We’ll be spending the day geeking out on shoulders, as the event will cover Shoulder Assessment, Corrective Exercise, and Programming.  The event will be geared toward personal trainers, strength and conditioning professionals, rehabilitation specialists, and fitness enthusiasts alike.

Agenda

9:00AM-9:30AM – Inefficiency vs. Pathology (Lecture)
9:30AM-10:15AM – Understanding Common Shoulder Injuries and Conditions (Lecture)
10:15AM-10:30AM – Break
10:30AM-12:30PM – Upper Extremity Assessment (Lab)
12:30PM-1:30PM – Lunch
1:30PM-3:30PM – Upper Extremity Mobility/Activation/Strength Drills (Lab)
3:30PM-3:45PM – Break
3:45PM-4:45PM – Upper Extremity Strength and Conditioning Programming: What Really Is Appropriate? (Lecture)
4:45PM-5:00PM – Q&A to Wrap Up

Location

Solace NY
38 East 32nd St.
New York, NY 10016

Continuing Education Credits

0.7 CEUs (7 contact hours) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

Cost:

SOLD OUT! Please email ec@ericcressey.com to get on the waiting list.

Note: we'll be capping the number of participants to ensure that there is a lot of presenter/attendee interaction - particularly during the hands-on workshop portion - so be sure to register early, as the previous offering sold out well in advance of the early-bird registration deadline.

Registration

SOLD OUT!

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Questions? Please email ec@ericcressey.com.

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Making Sense of Exercise Contraindications

I've got a wonky shoulder. Actually, the term "wonky" probably doesn't do it justice. As of a MRI in 2014, here's what I've got:

"There is a high-grade partial thickness articular surface tear of the posterior fibers of the supraspinatus that measures 15 mm AP x 15 mm RL. The undersurface tendon fibers are delaminated and retracted 15
mm.

"There is a high-grade partial-thickness cartilage defect over the posterior medial aspect of the humeral head
(near the posterior-superior labrum) with cartilage flap formation that measures 8 mm SI x 5 mm AP."

That was about three years ago, and it may be worse now. The truth is that it started with internal impingement during my high school tennis career, and gradually progressed over the years. In comparing the 2014 MRI to one I'd had in 2003, you see that the damage has progressed (as expected), but the symptoms have actually gotten substantially better.

My (occasional) pain is your gain, though. You see, the symptoms (or lack thereof) can actually teach us a lot about how we view contraindicating exercises.

I can bench press as heavy as I want with zero issues. Pull-ups, rows, pullovers, overhead carries, landmine presses, Turkish get-ups are all completely asymptomatic. They're in my safe exercise repertoire.

And, as long as I don't go crazy with volume or intensity, I can throw a baseball just fine. I long-tossed out well over 200 feet with my pro guys consistently this offseason and it wasn't a problem.

Overhead pressing is weird for me, though. If I tried to push press 135 pounds, my shoulder would hate me for the next 6-8 weeks. Interestingly, though, if I keep the weight lighter, stick to dumbbells in the scapular plane, control the tempo, focus on perfect technique, and don't go crazy with volume, overhead pressing actually makes my shoulder feel better. I'll work it in as an assistance exercise every other month.

 

 

Thanks to a chronic partial thickness rotator cuff tear, overhead pressing is weird for me. If I tried to push press 135 pounds, my shoulder would hate me for the next 6-8 weeks. Interestingly, though, if I keep the weight lighter, stick to dumbbells in the scapular plane, control the tempo, focus on perfect technique, and don't go crazy with volume, overhead pressing actually makes my shoulder feel better. I'll work it in as an assistance exercise every other month. This reminds us that we shouldn't just contraindicate exercises, but rather specific SCENARIOS. You won't change a person's anatomy, but you can certainly change the training stimulus to accommodate that anatomy. Check out today's post at www.EricCressey.com/blog for more info. #cspfamily #rotatorcuff #overheadpress #shoulderpain #shoulderworkout

A post shared by Eric Cressey (@ericcressey) on

Interestingly, though, back squatting is what destroys my shoulder the most. This is consistent with an internal impingement diagnosis, but doesn't make a whole lot of sense when you consider that I can throw pain-free. Even if I just try to put a 45-pound barbell on my shoulders, it lights my shoulder up in a very bad way.

This weird collection of symptoms can actually teach us three really big lessons, though.

1. Everyone's symptoms and provocative patterns are completely different.  Two people might have a very similar medical diagnosis, but dramatically different safe exercise repertoires.

2. Too often, we contraindicate simply contraindicate exercises. In reality, we should be looking much broader, considering factors such as absolute loading, tempo, volume, and exercise technique.

[bctt tweet="We should contraindicate people from exercises, not exercises for people."]

3. An individual's "safe" exercise repertoire may evolve over time due to changes in movement quality, tissue quality, recovery capacity, and structural integrity. Our programming needs to evolve to accommodate those changes, too.

Certainly, some exercises are inherently bad and not worth the risk, but it's important to evaluate each individual and situation individually to make the determinations on all those "middle of the road" exercises that deliver great training effects and make strength and conditioning fun.

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Shoulder Health: Fine-Tuning Full Can Technique

The "full can" exercise is a popular shoulder prehabilitation/rehabilitation exercise of which I'm not super fond for a number of reasons. That said, if folks are going to utilize it, I think it's important that they understand exactly how to perform the exercise and where they should feel it. Check out today's video to learn more:

Speaking of shoulder performance, I'm excited to announce that Optimal Shoulder Performance - Mike Reinold and my first collaborative product - is now available for the first time as a digital resource. To sweeten the deal, you can get 20% off by entering the coupon code 20OFF at www.ShoulderPerformance.com through the end of the day Sunday.

55-shoulder-performance-dvdcover-212x300

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The Best of 2016: Strength and Conditioning Videos

With my last post, I kicked off the "Best of 2016" series with my top articles of the year. Today, we'll highlight the top five videos of the year. These videos only include instructional videos, not quick exercise demonstrations. 

1. 1-arm TRX Row w/Offset Kettlebell Hold - Every good program includes plenty of horizontal pulling, and this is a way to incorporate a good core stability challenge at the same time.

2. Grip Width for Conventional Deadlift Technique - Getting the grip width right is one of the most important strategies for optimizing your deadlift technique.

3. Hip Extension and the Bulgarian Split Squat - The bulgarian split squat (rear foot elevated split squat) actually takes more hip mobility than you might appreciate, and this excerpt from Functional Stability Training: Optimizing Movement goes into detail on the subject. 

4. Tall Kneeling Cable Press to Overhead Lift - This is an older video, but I just uploaded it this year, as it made for a great "Exercise of the Week" inclusion. 

5. Rhythmic Stabilizations: Where Should You Feel Them? - Rhythmic stabilizations are a great way to improve rotator cuff timing - but only if they're performed correctly. In this video, I answer one of the most common questions we receive about them: "Where should you feel them?"

I'll be back soon with the top guest posts of 2016!

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3 Tips for Improving Shoulder Health and Performance

Today's guest post comes from my good friend and Elite Baseball Mentorships colleague, Eric Schoenberg. Enjoy! -EC

It is well documented that shoulder pain/injury is a primary reason for lost time in the gym and on the baseball field. Often times, the culprit is not poor exercise selection, but instead poor exercise execution. Most high level performers are going to do the work that we ask them to do, the issue is whether they are practicing getting better or practicing getting worse.

The following three tips will be useful for any strength coach or physical therapist to help ensure optimal function of the shoulder.

1. Understand and Appreciate Relative Stiffness.

There are several examples of relative stiffness around the shoulder that can result in faulty movement, pain and/or decreased performance.

A primary culprit occurs when the relative stiffness of the deltoid is greater than the rotator cuff. The result of this will be superior translation of the humeral head.

55-deltoid-pull

This can lead to undersurface rotator cuff tears, biceps tendon irritation, cyst formation, inferior glenohumeral ligament tears, or humeral head abnormalities – all of which are common to throwers.

Consider this when attempting to strengthen the cuff. Check to see if the humerus is in extension, as demonstrated in this photo. This faulty "elbow behind the body" pattern will lead to over-recruitment of the posterior deltoid:

humeralextension

You also want to cue the athlete away from excessive horizontal abduction, as demonstrated in the next photo. Prone external rotation with no support results in increased use of deltoid to support the arm against gravity:

proneer1

Here it is corrected with support:

proneercorrected

More times than not, we see athletes doing the correct exercise with the wrong execution and getting poor results. We want to avoid allowing an athlete to practice getting better at moving incorrectly.

2. Stop rowing so much, especially if your rowing technique is incorrect!

Rowing variations are generally the safest and easiest upper body exercises to program. However, even though a row is usually pain free, it can sometimes lead to patterns that result in injury down the road.

For example: If the rhomboids and lats are too stiff, you will see limited upward rotation of the scapula. Regardless of how much you strengthen the serratus anterior and lower trapezius, these smaller muscles will never match the force production of the lats and rhomboids.

With this in mind, the best “fix” is to increase stiffness and muscle performance of serratus and lower trapezius while simultaneously decreasing the stiffness and use of the lats/rhomboids.

This can be done by modifying the way we row. In this great video, EC discusses how to correct the row and ensure the scapula is moving properly on the ribcage with both phases of the rowing pattern.

In addition, we should program pressing or reaching exercises such as landmines, kettlebell presses, overhead carry variations.

3. Don’t let good lower body days double as “bad” upper body days.

We sometimes see athletes come in complaining about an increase in symptoms following lower body days. They will report something like “I don’t know what I did to my shoulder; I lifted lower body yesterday.” 

By now we know that a common cause of shoulder pain is the scapula being too depressed and downwardly rotated.

ScapularDownwardRotation-300x225-2

If an athlete performed deadlifts, back squats, or any lower body exercise where the weight was held by their sides (DB reverse lunges, step ups, RDLs, Bulgarian split squats, etc.), chances are they were feeding the pattern of depression and downward rotation.

Taking this a step further, we commonly see these exercises resulting in postures and stabilization strategies that present with increased lumbar lordosis and anterior pelvic tilt. When this goes uncorrected, scapular alignment suffers. Here’s a look at a reverse lunge with excessive hip extension, lumbar extension, and anterior pelvic tilt:

revlunge

Remember, there is no “corrective’ in the world that will counteract the stress of carrying 120-pound DBs by your side while training on a lower body day. This does not mean that you shouldn’t program it; instead, it means that we should just be aware of the consequences.

The solution to this is to consider alternate loading strategies (such as a Safety Squat Bar, KB Goblet set-up, or weight vests) that will allow the shoulder girdle to be freed up and positioned more optimally.  If we pair this with consistent attention to proper alignment and movement strategies, we can use lower body days as another opportunity to enhance shoulder function.

Looking to learn more about our unique approach to assessing and managing throwing athletes? Check out the upcoming Elite Baseball Mentorship Upper Extremity Course on December 18-20. For more information, click here. Don't delay, though; the early-bird registration deadline is November 18.

About the Author

Eric Schoenberg (@PTMomentum) is a physical therapist and strength coach located in Milford, MA where he is co-owner of Momentum Physical Therapy. Eric is addicted to baseball and plays a part in the Elite Baseball Mentorship Seminars at Cressey Sports Performance. He can be reached at eric@momentumpt.com.

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