Share   Subscribe to RSS feed

Brian Schiff’s Blog

Injury Prevention, Sports Rehab & Performance Training Expert

Tag: shoulder exercise

This exercise is intended for advanced users who want or need to increase shoulder, core and hip stability, while also seeking to improve hip disassociation. The core must function in an anti-extension and anti-rotation fashion throughout which is a safe and effective way to target those muscles while also providing a demanding strengthening exercise for the upper body and hips.

With that said, sufficient upper body strength is a must for this exercise.  Clients with wrist pain/weakness or elbow and shoulder pathology should only perform this exercise provided they have are symptom free and have moved through the following progressions. In many cases, it is best to start with tall planking and leg lift progressions on the floor before trying this exercise.

The video below will review the exercise in one of my latest columns for PFP Magazine.

Many athletes and clients I work with lack adequate pillar and shoulder stability. Whether this is related to acquired laxity, inherent instability or simply a lack of proper muscular control, I think it is important to assess baseline stability in anyone performing overhead lifts, ballistic upper body training and in overhead athletes.

In my clinic, I work with lots of baseball players, swimmers and volleyball players. Most females tend to struggle with hyper mobility (loose shoulder joints) whereas many of my males tend to have soft tissue tightness and in some cases limited internal rotation (GIRD). Both males and females tend to have a need to improve dynamic shoulder and pillar (core) stability to reduce injury risk and optimize mechanics.

The following exercise is one I use to both assess anti-rotational control/stability as well as train the body to resist torsional forces. In the video below, you can see how to assess your baseline strength and stability.

This exercise is very effective in working improving glenohumeral and scapular stability as well as enhancing shoulder, torso and hip stability. In my opinion, athletes with poor stability in this assessment should not perform unilateral Olympic lifting or ballistic overhead training as they may lack the necessary neuromuscular control to execute the proper movement pattern.

This is a follow-up to my previous post with respect to scapular strengthening for optimal shoulder function. Serratus anterior weakness is a common issue with overhead athletes, especially throwers. It may present clinically as scapular winging, however, it often fatigues quickly with repetitive throwing and contributes to scapular dyskinesia and shoulder dysfunction. Since throwing is an asymmetrical activity, I like to include some unstable and progressive strengthening exercises for the dominant arm.

In the video below (as part of my ‘Functionally Fit’ column for PFP Magazine) I will demonstrate how to use a bottom up kettle bell approach to strengthen the serratus anterior muscle.

To see the full article with progressions and regressions check out the link below:

http://fit-pro.com/article-4136-Unilateral-bottom-up-serratus-punch.html

I work with several overhead athletes ranging from swimmers and tennis players to professional baseball pitchers.  One consistent issue I see is tightness in the anterior chest wall coupled with poor scapular activation and stability.  For that reason, I often turn to snow angel exercises.  I wanted to share two variations I have written on before.  The first version utilizes a foam roller.  The movement is performed throughout a full arc of movement upward and downward.

foam-roller-snow-angel-start

Top position

foam-roller-snow-angel-finish

Bottom position

Click here for more details on the execution of this exercise

This is an excellent exercise that can be integrated as part of a warm-up/movement prep session as well as used in recovery and the cool-down to address soft tissue tightness in the chest, facilitate proper posture and encourage scapular retraction and depression.

I often use this exercise in combination with pec minor myofascial release and thoracic spine extension mobilization on the roller.  It is a staple in all of my rehab and prehab programs with all of my overhead athletes.

The second version involves moving to an upright position and can prove more challenging.  The exercise is also designed to promote scapular stability.  When done properly, the client will demonstrate proper upward rotation (avoid tipping and winging of the scapula) on the ascent, and then emphasize recruitment of the rhomboids and lower trap to achieve proper downward rotation on the descent.

It can be a very fatiguing activity and somewhat frustrating for clients when starting out.  Be sure to cue them accordingly, and let them know it may not be easy to keep full contact.  It may also be necessary to utilize soft tissue mobilization for the pecs/lats as well as stretching beforehand to promote a more normal movement pattern.

Start position

Top position

Mid position

Mid position

Finish position

Bottom position

In this anti-gravity version fatigue becomes more of an issue, so emphasizing quality movement and using less repetitions may be indicated.  Do not push through any painful motion.

Click here for more details on the execution of this exercise

I always look for exercises that allow me to actively elongate traditionally short muscles while encouraging proper muscle activation of weak/poorly recruited muscles.  This exercise does just that.  If you are interested in the impact of pec minor tightness and shoulder impingement, check out the article from JOSPT below:

The effect of long versus short pectoralis minor resting length on scapular kinematics in healthy individuals

For those familiar with my blog, you know I like to post research updates and exercises that prevent injury and maximize performance.  In my setting, I get to work with a very active population ranging in ages from 10-50 in most cases, including elite and professional athletes.  I am pointing this out simply because I have an opportunity to test and measure unique and challenging exercises every day with fit, athletic clients.

As part of my world, I am often faced with restoring shoulder, core and hip stability.  As clients progress through rehab and conditioning, I am always seeking advanced training options that are feasible and functional.  One training tool I like to employ, especially in upper body, core and hip training is the BOSU Balance Trainer.

Emphasizing co-contraction and scapulothoracic and glenohumeral stability is essential for optimal shoulder function.  But more importantly, addressing kinetic chain function in the shoulder, torso and hips is a must if we are to soundly address energy leaks and reduce injury risk.  To that end, I like to incorporate unstable closed kinetic chain training when my athletes are ready.  The video below demonstrates two upper body step-up progressions (forward and side-to-side) on the BOSU Balance Trainer that I utilize for higher level clientele.

Upper Body Step-ups

Regression – in place stepping (this can be used to prepare clients for the step-ups)

This regression can also be a very effective training tool especially if the client lacks sufficient strength, endurance and form to execute the full step-up patterns.  Pain and form should always guide exercise selection and progression.

Below are two links to my Functionally Fit columns describing the execution and application of these exercises:

Unstable Upper Body Step-ups (forward)

Unstable Upper Body Step-ups (lateral)