Today's installment is for all you people out there with cranky or achy shoulders, or people who want to prevent cranky and achy shoulders... so pretty much everyone.
I'm trying to keep this post short, so the anatomical explanations are pretty cursory. More shoulder posts to follow I guess.
A few of the common causes for most people's shoulders to scream at them include:
- Poor scapular (shoulder blade) movement: the shoulder blades do not upwardly rotate along the rib cage well as the arms go over head and thus pinching occurs at the shoulder joint. To put it another way, the scapulae do not glide well on the rib cage which is key to healthy overhead movements.
- Poor muscular control: the muscles that surround the shoulder blade are either weak or not even turning on to control the movement of the scapulae- see point number 1.
- Poor muscular control Part 2: the muscles of the rotator cuff are unable to stabilize the head of the humerus (the upper arm bone) on the glenoid fossa (where the ball-in-socket aspect of the shoulder is. Though really it's more of a golf ball on a tee, but that's another post).
Enter the Slider Swimmers:
I stole this from Jen Sinkler's Lift Weights Faster program and I really, really like them.
- Lay on your stomach with hand on sliders, obviously, with palms at your arm pits. Take note of your pelvic position, you shouldn't have your butt sticking up and your lower back overly arched. Squeeze you butt and tuck your hips under (you can see my adjust mine at the very beginning of the video) so that your lower back isn't overextended. If you can't get into a good position, place a small, rolled-up towel under your hips to put you in a neutral position.
- Apply pressure throughout the whole movement through your hands as you slide your hands over your head. You should feel a little bit of tricep action going on (it's the long head of the tricep, if you're curious) as you slide upwards. This is 50% of the benefit of the drill: teaching proper scapular movement on the rib cage in an overhead motion.
- Keep the pressure steady as you bring your hands back to the starting position. In order to activate the small muscles around the shoulder blade and rotator cuff, think about pinching a pencil between your shoulder blades and gently driving your elbows into your rib cage. This is the other 50%: activating and strengthening the muscles that control the movement of the scapulae and humeral head.
Why do I like this drill?
It remedies the major issues mentioned at the beginning of the post: scapular movements, muscular control of the scapulae, and muscular control of the humeral head. This would be a great drill to put either in a warm-up or as a "filler" between sets of a main movement, like bench press.