Lifting and training overhead is cool! Being able to lift heavy from the ground or overhead is a sign of brute strength.
Many people get in trouble when they lift overhead because they may lack the mobility or stability to get into the proper positions.
Here are 2 “Must Have” pre-requisites in order to be able to train overhead.
1. Full Shoulder Flexion
If you want to lift overhead, having full shoulder mobility is a must-have! Don’t get me wrong, there are variations that you can perform if your overhead shoulder mobility is limited.
Overhead pulling variations such as:
Tall Kneeling Batwings
Overhead Pressing variations such as:
Just to name a few.
Having sufficient overhead shoulder mobility is key for performance and decreasing one’s risk for injury.
If you want to work on your mobility, the drills below can help. If not, seek out a medical provider to help improve your overhead position.
Bench T-spine Mobs
2. Sufficient Scapular Upward Rotation
Even if you have full passive shoulder mobility, your shoulders and arms still need to be able to get into an overhead position. One common area that can limit full ACTIVE overhead shoulder mobility is the ability of the scapulae (shoulder blade) to upwardly rotate to allow for the arm to get overhead.
The arm itself will only travel so far without the scapula moving. Either there will be limited motion or there will be an altered pattern of movement. Typically, the scapulae will not upwardly rotate and can cause pinching on the top or front side of the shoulder.
Now, if this happens once or twice, no big deal. But if someone is training through this and continuing to try and work through a pinch, not so good!
To assess how someone’s scapulae move, just have them reach overhead.
We like to see about 50-55 degrees of scapular upward rotation. One quick and easy was is to see if someone has this is if the bottom angle of the scapula gets to the midline of the side of the body. If so, sufficient scapular upward rotation. Also, if if the medial border of the scapulae creates a 50-55 deg angle with the midline of the body/spine.
If scapular upward rotation is lacking, exercises such as:
Back to Wall Shoulder Flexion
-When you arms get to shoulder height, gently reach out in front of your body.
-Continue to reach as you bring your arms overhead.
Forearm Wall Slides
-Slide forearms up the wall.
-When elbows get to shoulder height, think of pushing your trunk away from the wall and maintain pressure/contact with your hands as you slide up.
-As you bring your hips up into the air, think of pushing the ground away from you.
These exercises can help to train your body and scapula to upwardly rotate when going overhead.
If you want to train overhead, make sure you have sufficient overhead mobility and scapular control.
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