– Courtesy: crossfitwilmette.com
This is for those of you who are having shoulder pain with overhead motions or after overhead motions. If you are having pain (not normal post exercise soreness), I advise you get started with Physical Therapy as soon as possible to address the problems, but if you want to try some things on your own first, here are my basic recommendations.
To begin, we need to regain mobility of the shoulders, scapulae, and thoracic spine. I like to begin with 1 basic overhead shoulder flexibility test:
Stand with your back against a wall and you feet a few inches away from the wall. Tilt your pelvis back to flatten your lower back against the wall. Raise one arm straight up (keep your elbow straight) and try to touch the wall overhead. There are a couple of different options for results of this test.
- You could have pain (this is a red flag for injury, you should definitely see your doctor of physical therapist).
- You could be unable to touch the wall, but you don’t have pain, indicating you need to work on mobility.
- You can barely touch the wall with your thumb (this is the absolute minimum mobility you should have to perform overhead activity). You definitely need to continue working on mobility.
- You can easily touch the wall with the back of your hand. This is a passing score, you should probably be safe for overhead exercise.
If you fall into category 2, you should eliminate all overhead activity (pullups, pressing, push pressing, jerking, hand stand push ups) from your workouts until you improve the mobility. Wall balls are probably questionable, but you might be able to do them. Kettlebell swings should not go overhead. Sub in pushups, ring rows, eye level kettlebell swings. Maybe chest passes into a wall with a slamball instead of wall balls.
If you fall into category 3, then do a bunch of mobility and see if you can get yourself into category 4 before you workout. Many of you will be able to get there.
Mobility work for categories 2 and 3:
- foam rolling – check out this YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJHgXKbK8Ss
- extension over the foam roller – check out this video from Cressey Performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzWOECAhsAM
- lacrosse ball work (double lacrosse ball is great) – YouTube video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2taQ_so8LM
- open book stretch is great – Nick Tummienello does a great short video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=fvwp&v=Eo8rPut0GXI (this is a must for pre golf warmups)
- thoracic rotation in kneeling – Kevin Carr does a good demo here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCEKBGRhSBQ
- I also suggest you schedule an appointment or two with John to have your thoracic spine manipulated. It will help a lot.
- lacrosse ball to the back of the scapula, to the muscles around the scapula check out kstar: http://www.mobilitywod.com/2011/03/episode-209365-free-your-ribs-your-mind-will-follow.html
- lacrosse ball to the pecs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkTsM3yl64A
- lacrosse ball to the lats: thanks to Ben Bruno http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KYOAcmLwNU (he’s probably getting more of teres major / teres minor, but it’s all good)
- Try some scapular strengthening exercises that move through a full motion in all directions. Matt Shaffer does these before his workouts and I think they are a great way to both mobilize his scapulae and to strengthen them.
- scapular retraction: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gekR38LerTo
- scapular protraction: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPmuuYVGpG8
- scapular elevation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63PGhnnwaFQ
- scapular depression: option 1 – if you are strong enough: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icPZniIefwA&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PLC9E83E368709DDBF or with a band http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXpYRhyT3no
Shoulders: We actually don’t want to stretch the ball and socket out all that much, if you improve the scapula and thoracic spine, you should be better and able to pass your test. The few exceptions might be to use a lacrosse ball on your deltoids a little and to work gently on internal rotation. There should be no pain with this though. The other exception is the overhead stretching with the band, I’m all for this one, keep doing it, but this will also stretch your scapula as much as the shoulder joint.
Kstar on some good shoulder stuff: http://www.mobilitywod.com/2010/09/free-your-scap-free-your-mind.html
After you do 1 mobility drill, go back to the wall and retest. You should find that some of the mobility drills will help more than others, when you find one that helps, repeat it over and over.
The biggest takeaway here should be rest the painful shoulder. You should never exercise the painful shoulder, but it will do a lot better with mobility work and stretching (and icing).
If you are having a problem, I’d be happy to take a look on a Saturday sometime or at a separate time that we can arrange. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org