Shoulder Extension Part 2

Can you do a push-up like this?

The most common coaching cue I repeatedly hear with regards to performing dips and push-ups is “keep your shoulders down and back.”

Is this really the correct set-up?

Go ahead and squeeze your shoulder blades together.

What automatically happened when you did that?

Most likely, you also hyperextended your lower back! This is its own problem as you are organizing your body in a terrible position. Lets focus specifically on the shoulder joint as this will help the rest of your alignment.

The overemphasis on pinching the shoulder blades together creates a false sense of stability, as opposed to actually using the muscles that surround the shoulder. This pinching of the shoulder blades also puts a tremendous amount of stress on the anterior shoulder as opposed to equally loading the arms.

Do you know what happens when we continue to overload the anterior shoulder joint in these pushing exercises?

The most common injury is likely going to be shoulder impingement. In more extreme loading parameters we could also see speculate pec tears (where have we seen this before?).  

How then, do we balance out the load between the arms and shoulders?

Actually by cueing the exact opposite of what everyone is cueing (Yes you read that correctly)

While everyone is cueing for the shoulders to be down and back, which is essentially shoulder blade retraction, we need to be cueing shoulder blade protraction.

I have found this to correct the overemphasis on the anterior shoulder joint and force an athlete to equally use their arms. Also remember this is just a cue and at a certain point throughout the range of motion it is no longer possible to maintain full shoulder blade protraction.

Where do we start?

What you have most likely discovered is that you aren’t strong enough to even perform a single rep of this push-up correctly. The next logical question is, where do we begin? Below is just one example of how to begin programming this correction. I always like super-setting pushing exercises with pulling exercises, as well as finishing a push/pull session with some structural balance shoulder work.

A1. Eccentric pseudo planche push-up: 1.1.1 x 5 sets; rest 90 seconds

A2. Ring rows @30x1: 5 x 5 sets; rest 90 seconds

B. Dumbbell Cuban rotations @4020: 6-8 x 3 sets; rest 60 seconds

SPOILER ALERT! Next week we are going to go deeper into shoulder positioning on push-ups vs dips vs HSPU and how they are exactly the same, but rarely performed exactly the same!

Shoulder Extension Part 1

Try This Right Now!

Round your shoulders as far forward as possible (think sitting in front of a computer with really bad posture) now maintain this position and try to raise one or both arms overhead. Take note at how awkward and difficult that felt as well as how far up your shoulders went.

Now sit up nice and tall with good posture (even pinching your shoulder blades together slightly) and go ahead and repeated the above process.

Which one was easier?

When your shoulders are in a forward position such as in the first example, you are lacking shoulder extension. If we can’t even get our shoulders into a neutral position all other motions are going to be impossible to safely and correctly achieve!

How does this happen?

I see this as a twofold problem. The first and bigger problem is the fact that everyone is stuck sitting in front of a desk in this poor position for eight plus hours a day. You couple that with almost no one in the fitness industry trains shoulder extension, most programs have push and pull movements. But these are almost always overhead or in the front of the body (both of these are shoulder flexion positions)

Why does this matter?

When we lack shoulder extension (or any motion for that matter) we can’t properly load our own architecture. This is going to lead to unevenly distributing loads else where(think driving a car with a flat tire). In the case of the shoulder this results in shoulder, elbow and wrist tendonitis.

To help resolve these issues, this is why one of the top priorities addressed with all of our onsite and remote clients is shoulder extension.