Do you find yourself using the foam roller or doing some type of self-myofascial release work to improve your overhead shoulder mobility?
Do you do this religiously, day in and day out, it improves, but then every time you go to train again it reverts back to what it used to be?
Well, one of the reasons you may not be maintaining the improvements you make each session is because you aren’t giving your body a stimulus to maintain this new mobility.
Here is a quick and easy test to determine if you have full shoulder mobility:
-Lie on your back.
-Bend your knees.
-Let your arms go overhead.
-You should have no pain or pinching in this position.
If your arms go straight overhead and can touch the table or ground, then you have full overhead shoulder mobility. If you don’t, then performing your shoulder or thoracic spine self-myofascial release work may help.
But now that you have improved it, we want to make sure it can be maintained.
First off, we want to see if you can access this mobility ACTIVELY!
Standing, with your feet together, take your arm and reach up, behind your head and try to touch your opposite scapula (shoulder blade).
Perform on the opposite side. You should be able to perform this without compensation. Compensations include:
-Leaning backwards with your entire body.
-Shrugging your opposite shoulder to decrease the distance to your scapula.
-Sidebending to shorten the distance.
The list can go on.
If you have full mobility passively on the table/ground, but can’t access it actively, then there is a motor control issue occurring.
Motor control is not strength. Motor control is muscular timing and sequencing that occurs during movement. It is more about precision and control than it is pure strength.
For example, think of a slingshot.
photo credit: http://keywordsuggest.org/gallery/585597.html
When using a slingshot, both arms are involved. One arm is holding the slingshot while the other pulls the elastic backwards.
The arm that pulls the elastic backwards, think of that as muscular strength. It takes muscular force, usually quite a bit, to pull that backwards.
The arm that is holding the slingshot stable, think of that as motor control. It takes more control and “stability” to hold it still. It usually doesn’t require as much force as pulling the elastic backwards, but more precision.
With that being said, if you can’t perform something actively, but you have full mobility, the timing of your neuromuscular system may be altered.
To work on improving your active mobility or maintaining newly acquired mobility, we need to train the nervous system on how to control it.
If we don’t, it will revert back to what it knows and to the pre-SMR mobility.
Drills to work on new “mobility” can include:
Back to Wall Shoulder Flexion
-Maintain a flat lumbar spine against the wall.
-Start with your feet 6-8 inches away from the wall.
-Gently reach like something is 1-inch in front of your finger tips once your arms go above shoulder height.
-Continue reaching as you bring your arms overhead.
Forearm Wall Slides
-Maintain a neutral spine.
-Once your elbows pass shoulder height, firmly press your hands into the wall and maintain that pressure as you slide up the wall.
-Think of pushing your trunk away from the wall as you slide up.
Quadruped Assisted Reach, Roll, and Lift
-Perform slow and controlled.
Yoga Push-Up Sans Push-Up
-Think of "pushing the ground away from you" with your hands.
We can perform self-myofascial release aka foam rolling, lacrosse ball work, etc. all we want, but if we don't give the brain and the nervous system a stimulus to maintain any "new" mobility, then the body will revert back to what it knows with feeling tight.
Give some of these drills a try after you perform your SMR work to help maintain the improvements you make!
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