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  • Mitchell Rothbardt

Shoulders and the Chain Pt. 2

In the first part of this series, which you can read here, I talked about how important shoulder health is to your entire body and the way that I go about improving them. In part 2 I’ll talk about how to continue that process and why I order things in the way that I do. Just to refresh your memory, I believe that the four-way approach for shoulder health goes like this:

1. Awareness (posture) 2. Soft-tissue work 3. Mobility 4. Strength

In part one I talked about awareness and soft-tissue work. Today let’s go over mobility and strength.

Number 3 is mobility. In short that means how a joint moves. Having good shoulder mobility is very important to your overall posture as I demonstrated in part one.

Notice, however, that I use the term mobility NOT flexibility. The reason for this, is that in everyday life IT’S NOT AT ALL IMPORTANT HOW FLEXIBLE YOU ARE IF YOU CAN’T TRANSLATE THAT INTO BETTER MOVEMENT. I hope the capital letters got my point across because it is an extremely important point.

Anyway, I use a variety of ways to improve shoulder mobility. Some involve different stretches, some are kinds of movements. The reason I place this in the order I do is that the soft-tissue work breaks down movement restrictions which, in turn, gains us a better range of motion. Now it’s time to use and establish that increased range of motion. It’s really about using your body correctly so that you can improve. Many times people work too much on flexibility alone without taking into account how to apply that newly found range of motion. That can lead to injuries.

One exercise I use quite frequently is called the Wall Slide.

You get your butt, upper back and head against a wall. Bring your arms all the way back so that they touch the wall from your fingertips to your elbows and, keeping everything against the wall, slide your arms up and down.

Keep in mind if you do have tight shoulders this might be difficult, if not impossible. You can bring your arms back as far as you can, but if you’re too tight this might not be a great option for you. In that case, you can try Front Wall Slides in which you face the wall and touch it with the pinky side of your arm from the tips of your fingers to your elbows to slide your arm up and down and never losing all that contact with the wall.

Number 4 is one of the most neglected areas when it comes to shoulders (and frequently training, in general) and that’s strength. Now that we’ve gained improved range of motion and established it, we need the strength to maintain it. It does us no good to fall back into old habits and positions the moment we get fatigued. Many people are afraid to work on strength for fear of injury, but as long as you are conscious of your form and positions, and train intelligently you should be fine and will actually become more resistant to injury. Remember that fatigue brings us back to old habits and is what puts us in bad positions time and again.

Our shoulders are always going to be a pretty vulnerable joint due to its design. It’s designed for a large range of motion and because of that, strength and stability are a bit compromised. That’s why it is crucial that you take care of them by doing your best to maintain good posture and doing the types of things I talked about in these articles.

If you have any questions please let me know. Have a great day!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach Mitch Rothbardt Fitness at 2861 Grove Way Castro Valley’s Premier Fitness Facility I Help People Discover Their Strength 510-754-7113 Boost Your Metabolism With My Free Report

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