Now that you’ve been practicing and implementing part one of the Bulletproof Shoulders Series, it’s time to reestablish our true, full, overhead positioning. If you haven’t read and implemented part one yet, you can do that here.
Similar to part one, we need to address any tissue restrictions first that are preventing us from achieving our full overhead position. The two most common restricted areas are the pectorals (which we also addressed in part one) and latissimus dorsi muscles, also known as the “lats”, which derive from the humerus (upper arm bone) and travel down each side of the back of our rib cage. In short, our pecs allow us to push and our lats allow us to pull, but both derive from the same bone (the humerus). Let’s begin this by addressing the main restrictions that prevent full flexion of the shoulder (raising our arms above our head). This will allow us to mobilize our overhead position as well as help to mobilize and extend our thoracic spine.
Double Arm Lat Stretch
Using the same resistance band from part one, fasten one end to a stable structure and loop both hands around the other end of the band. Begin the movement by remaining in line with the band and taking a few steps backwards. Hinge at the hips, pushing your butt back and sinking your chest to the floor. The natural tension from the band should cause your arms to drift to an overhead position. Aim for a full overhead position, but always stop just shy of any pain or discomfort and work within a comfortable range. Now that we’ve established our start position, take another step back to add some more tension to the band. From here, rotate your torso up to one side, peeking up to the ceiling and holding for a count of three seconds. Ensure that you maintain a flat, neutral back position during this entire movement. Perform this movement, rotating from left to right, for a total of 2-3 minutes. You should experience a nice, comfortable stretch down both the left and right side of the torso and quite possibly the pectoral region.
Once we’ve addressed the tissue restrictions and have created some “slack” in the system, it is now time to groove our new pattern. This stability exercise will allow us to strengthen much of the upper back as well as the muscles of the shoulder and will better equip us with the necessary strength and stability to execute a full overhead position.
Scarecrow to Wall Slide
Here, we’ll be adding a new piece to the scarecrow variation from part one. Begin by standing with your back to a wall. Your feet should be hip width apart and approximately six to twelve inches away from the wall. Now, lean back against the wall, squeeze your butt, keep your rib cage down and keep your abdominals engaged. Do not allow your back to arch away from the wall during this movement. Raise your arms up against the wall and create a ninety degree angle at your armpit and elbow. Lastly, externally rotate at the shoulder by rotating your arms back until the back of your hand touches the wall. The next piece to this movement, called the wall slide, consists of sliding our arms up the wall, above our head and into a fully locked out overhead position. Be sure to keep your hands, arms and entire back against the wall at all times. Like mentioned earlier, work within a comfortable range. Perform the entire scarecrow to wall slide sequence (up and down) 15 times for four to five sets, resting 90 seconds between sets.
Add this to part one of the Bulletproof Shoulder series and practice, practice, practice. Because practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent!