Home Posts tagged "Shoulder Health"

Why Rhomboids Probably Aren’t Your Best Friend

Today, I've got an excerpt from my new course, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions. I discuss the functional anatomy of the rhomboids, a commonly misunderstood muscle group with big implications.

For a lot more functional anatomy insights like these - as well as a comprehensive look at shoulder assessment, programming, and coaching - be sure to check out Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

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Mobility Exercise of the Week: Supine Banded Shoulder Flexion on Roller

The supine banded shoulder flexion on roller is a new shoulder mobility drill I came up with that is really growing on me quickly. Effectively, it's an alternative to a back to wall shoulder flexion for those who may struggle to "compete against" gravity as they take the arms overhead in the standing position.

In this drill:

1. The foam roller provides feedback for posterior pelvic tilt, thoracic extension, and a more neutral cervical spine posture.

2. Gravity assists the individual into overhead motion to overcome stiffness through the lats, teres major, long head of triceps, inferior capsule, pec minor, etc.

3. The fact that the roller doesn't impede scapular motion (like the wall or floor would) makes it easier to achieve some scapular posterior tilt as the arms go overhead.

4. The supinated grip drives some shoulder external rotation, placing the lats on stretch in the transverse plane so that folks can't "cheat" the movement by letting their hands drift toward the midline.

5. The band creates some posterior rotator cuff recruitment,

I'll take this over a few sets of ugly band pullaparts any day. What's not to like?

Looking for more cutting-edge shoulder strategies like these? Check out my new resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions at www.SturdyShoulders.com.

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Stop Thinking About “Normal” Thoracic Spine Mobility

Two years ago, I published a post, Tinkering vs. Overhauling - and the Problems with Average, where I discussed the pitfalls of focusing on population averages, especially in the world of health and human performance. I'd encourage you to give it a read, but the gist is that you have to be careful about overhauling a program because you see someone as being outside a "norm" that might have been established for an entire population when they are unique in so many ways.

Thoracic spine mobility is an excellent example. What would be considered acceptable for an 80-year-old man would be markedly different than what we'd want from a 17-year-old teenage athlete in a rotational sport. This athlete, for instance, had some marked negative postural adaptations that contributed to two shoulder surgeries during his time as a baseball pitcher. If he was far older with different physical demands, though, he might have never run into problems.

Lumbar locked rotation is a great thoracic spine rotation screen I learned from Dr. Greg Rose at the Titleist Performance Institute. Briefly, you put the lumbar spine in flexion (which makes lumbar rotation hard to come by) and the hand behind the back (to minimize scapular movement). This allows you to better evaluate thoracic rotation without compensatory motion elsewhere. Check out the high variability among three athletes who are all roughly the same age:

On the left, we have a professional baseball pitcher. In the middle, we have an aspiring professional golfer. And, on the right, we have a powerlifter who's moved well over 600 pounds on both the squat and deadlift. Adaptation to imposed demand is an incredibly important part of this discussion of "normal." The hypertrophy (muscle bulk) that benefits the powerlifter could possibly make the baseball pitcher and golfer worse, but at the same time, I wouldn't necessarily say that the powerlifter is "lacking" in thoracic rotation because you don't need a whole lot of movement in this area for a successful, sustainable powerlifting career.

I should also note that these are all active measures. If we checked all three of these guys passively, we'd likely see there's even more thoracic rotation present than you can see here. And, that can open up another can of worms, as having a big difference between active and passive range of motion can be problematic, too.

The take-home message is that if you're going to call someone's movement quality "abnormal," you better have a clear designation of what "normal" is for their age and sport, as well as what's required for their athletic demands.

For more information on how we assess and train thoracic mobility, I'd encourage you to check out my new resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 6/9/18

Happy Saturday! This edition of "stuff to read"is a few days late in light of the Major League Baseball Draft and release of my new resource, Sturdy Shoulders Solutions. As a quick reminder, it's on sale for $50 off through the end of the day tomorrow (Sunday). You can learn more at www.SturdyShoulders.com.

With it being a shoulder product, I figured I'd use this week to "reincarnate" some upper extremity content from my archives:

Are You Packing the Shoulder Correctly? - Most people don't appreciate the relevant anatomy involved in packing the shoulder, so that may actually utilize the wrong muscles to get the job done. This webinar delves into the topic in detail.

3 Tips for Improving Your Back to Wall Shoulder Flexion - This video demonstrates a few quick and easy cues to improve your capacity for overhead reaching.

Exercise of the Week: Standing External Rotation Holds to Wall - This exercise is a great fit for everyday lifters and baseball players alike, as it builds rotator cuff strength without any equipment.

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Have a great weekend!

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Are You Getting Shoulder Motion in the Right Places?

With this week's release of my new project, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions, I thought I'd give you a little sampling of what's included. In this TRX serratus anterior exercise video excerpt, I talk about the importance of getting good scapulothoracic (shoulder blade on rib cage) movement so that you don't have to find extra glenohumeral (ball on socket) motion.  Check it out:

This is a key shoulder health principle I cover in great detail in my new resource - and it's on sale for $50 off through Sunday at midnight. You can learn more at www.SturdyShoulders.com.

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Shoulder Health: Where Small Hinges Swing Big Doors

The shoulder girdle is a complex series of joints unified by subtle movements in perfect timing. If you need proof, just check out this slide from my new release, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

This study looked at the difference between the empty can and full can in terms of both muscular recruitment and actual movement in folks with symptomatic impingement vs. healthy controls. Not surprisingly, the empty can exercise hurt more. Just looking at this picture hurts my shoulder (and my shirt is wildly fitting).

To me, though, that's not the most significant takeaway from these study results. Rather, take a look at some of the numbers included in their findings: 1-3 degrees (joint movement) and 1-4% (muscular activation). These are subtle, subtle quantifiable differences between those in pain and those who are pain free - and most of them really can't be perceived "on the fly."

What does this mean for how you assess, program, and coach?

First, from an evaluation standpoint, we have to truly understand what quality movement should look and feel like. If you can't truly define "normal," then how can you ever truly appreciate "abnormal?"

Second, not all exercises are created equal (as we learned from the empty vs. full can discussion). 

Third, in coaching, we have to constantly solicit feedback from our athletes on where they feel exercises.

These are all key principles on which I focus in my new resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions - and it's on sale for $50 off through Sunday at midnight. You can learn more at www.SturdyShoulders.com.

 

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“Sturdy Shoulder Solutions” is Now Available!

I'm super excited to announce the release of my new resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions, which will be on sale for $50 off through Sunday. This product has been years in the making, and it includes over six hours of cutting edge assessment, coaching, and programming strategies. You can learn more at the following link:

http://www.SturdyShoulders.com

Here's what you'll experience:

  • Simplifying Shoulder Health (Webinar)
  • How Posture Impacts Pain and Performance (Webinar)
  • Important Upper Extremity Functional Anatomy Considerations (Webinar)
  • The Proximal-to-Distal Principle (Webinar)
  • Nuances of the Neck (Webinar)
  • Rethinking the Thoracic Spine (Webinar)
  • Making Sense of Serratus Anterior (Webinar)
  • Is Upper Trapezius the Devil? (Lab)
  • The Myth of Normal Range of Motion (Lab)
  • Rethinking the Thoracic Spine (Lab)
  • Making Sense of Serratus Anterior (Lab)
  • Good Exercises Gone Bad (Lab)
  • The Myth of Balancing Pushes and Pulls (Lab)

It's a great fit for personal trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, sports coaches, and rehabilitation specialists. Additionally, many fitness enthusiasts will appreciate the focus on individualizing programming recommendations and technique coaching strategies.

In particular, it’s a tremendous fit for anyone who has previously been exposed to our Optimal Shoulder Performance and Functional Stability Training products. Sturdy Shoulder Solutions serves as an up-to-date companion to the educational material covered in those previous offerings.

You'll get instant online access to this digital-only product after purchase. Just head to http://www.SturdyShoulders.com to pick it up.
 

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Why You Shouldn’t Look Up When You Lift

To tuck the chin or not? It's one of the most debated topics in the world of strength and conditioning and sports medicine these days. If you've read any of my stuff (including the detailed presentation, "Nuances of the Neck," in my new resource, Sturdy Shoulder Solutions), you'll know that I prefer tucking it - the so-called "packed neck position" - to preserve a more neutral cervical spine positioning, whether it's on deadlifts, squats, or push-ups.

One of the most common arguments against this packed neck position is that Powerlifter X and Olympic Lifter Y look up during lifts, and they're really strong. I'd encourage you to consider that:

1. Most of your clients/athletes have no interest in being Powerlifter X or Olympic Lifter Y. They just want to be fit, healthy, proficient in their sport. They value quality of life over weight room PRs - so movement quality takes place over absolute loading.

2. Good outcomes don't necessarily equate to good movements, so it's difficult to always draw population-wide conclusions from elite athletes. As an example, Cressey Sports Performance athlete and Cubs pitcher Steve Cishek is an accomplished MLB pitcher, yet he has some "high maintenance" pitching mechanics that you would never teach to another up-and-coming pitcher. He's just found a way to make them work, even if they do put his body in some funky positions. 

 

Slooooooow moooooo Cisshhheekkk. #cspfamily #cubs

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Just because someone is strong doesn't mean that they're getting to those big numbers via the most efficient or healthy avenues.

3. We have no idea what Powerlifter X or Olympic Lifter Y's necks will look (or feel) like in their 60s.

4. Especially under load, it's never a great idea to take one joint close to its end-range at the expense of motion at other joints. A common example is getting too much low back movement when the hips are stiff. Well, when it comes to cervical extension, most people get far too much in the upper cervical region and far too little in the lower cervical spine. So, not all "look ups" are coming from the same place - and some will certainly create more pathology than others.

5. When you go into upper cervical/head extension, you're shortening levator scapulae, which is a downward rotator of the scapula.

If you're looking to set up an overhead squat or snatch, it's probably not a great idea to encourage downward rotation of the scapula when you need upward rotation for quality overhead motion. Here's a video that delves into this a bit further:

6. You're also shortening sternocleidomastoid, which is one of the biggest muscular contributors to chronic headaches.

So do yourself a favor and just tuck your chin a bit. And, if you'd like to learn more about the functional anatomy and unique challenges we face with the neck, be sure to check out Sturdy Shoulder Solutions.

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Acumobility Self Care for the Neck – Part 4

Today is part 4 of my series on how we utilize the Acumobility Ball for self myofascial release in the neck and upper extremity. Here, I cover the coracoid process, an attachment point for pec minor, coracobrachialis, and the short head of the biceps. Don't forget that you can get these great soft tissue resources for 10% off by using the coupon code cressey at www.Acumobility.com.

I've got one more video coming up for you tomorrow, so stay tuned!

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The Best of 2017: Strength and Conditioning Videos

With my last post, I kicked off the "Best of 2017" 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. Why I Don't Like Scap Push-ups - I used to use scap push-ups, but got away from them several years ago. This video details why.

2. Bench Press Technique, Shoulder Health, and Elbows Tucked vs. Flared - Elbows tucked vs. elbows flared: which is better for shoulder health? Check out this video to find out.

3. Should You "Balance" Pushes and Pulls? - I don't think it's as simple as balancing pushes and pulls in your training program. Here's why.

4. Making Sense of Serratus Anterior - I write and speak a lot about the importance of serratus anterior for shoulder health and performance. Here's what happens when it doesn't do its job.

5. Deadlift Technique: Set-up Tips - I've often said that the solution is in the set-up, and the deadlift is a perfect example.

I'll be back soon with the top guest posts of 2017!

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LEARN HOW TO DEADLIFT
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