Brian continues with part three of Functionally Fit shoulder miniseries. This time, he provides two super-simple mobility exercises great for improving shoulder flexion and diminishing shoulder impingement and posture problems.
See 'Related Resources' below for past Functionally Fits (including the shoulder series) and other exercises and training tips.
Begin in standing about 12"-15" from the wall. Using a small towel to reduce friction, gently slide the towel with both hands upward, allowing the weight of the body to stretch the shoulder into flexion until a comfortable stretch is felt.
You may elect to use one arm if a single-sided stretch is desired or in the presence of pain. Hold for three to five seconds at the top, and return to the start position. Perform 10-20 repetitions.
This exercise is an excellent shoulder mobility training tool that I implement to improve shoulder flexion and resolve tightness in the latissimus dorsi. Additionally, you will get some secondary stretching of the pecs, particularly the sternal fibers. Tightness in these muscle groups tend to contribute to increased posterior/superior shoulder impingement as well as postural deficiencies and muscular imbalance.
This exercise is effective for overhead athletes and general clientele suffering from shoulder stiffness or postural imbalances. The movement should always be smooth and fluid, all the while self-directed in terms of the amount of stretch as felt to be appropriate by the client.
Do not attempt to force through any shoulder pain.
If necessary, consider starting the client in a supine position using a dowel rod or light body bar to initiate the movement in an unweighted, open-chain manner prior to moving to the closed-chain progressions above. Lying on the back will help stabilize the shoulder blades and allow for a controlled movement with gravity assisted overpressure at the end range.
Brian Schiff, PT, CSCS (www.brianschiff.com) is a licensed physical therapist, respected author and fitness professional. He became a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) in 1998. In 2000, he opened his own personal training and sport-specific conditioning facility, Fitness Edge, in Dublin, Ohio. Brian has presented at several professional conferences and seminars on injury prevention and sport-specific training.