Monthly Shoulder Flexibility Drills

Are you a climber looking to make improvements for this next season? A seasoned older climber or a newbie, your flexibility is important to ensure you are expending as little effort as possible. Let's look at the shoulder and ensure it is sitting correctly in its joint. You need flexiblity to ensure you aren't working against your own body-

If you have flexibility- Great!! if you don't- It is time to get going on these tests... (Cheater Note: The test is also the treatment)

Signs you need stretching of this region:

1. Immobility- You cannot reach your back pocket or reach as far up behind your shoulder blades as you can on the other side (Dominant shoulders are usually tighter).

2. You feel Clicking or have Pain at the front/top of your shoulder and have been examined for a rotator cuff injury (and DO NOT have healed tears/fractures).

3. You have been diagnosed with Impingement Syndrome of this same shoulder.

Shoulder Flexibility Testing

Too often climbers overstretch the front of their shoulder, allowing the humerus (arm bone) to sit asymmetrically in a forward position upon the glenoid fossa (the scapular portion of the shoulder joint). If the front of the shoulder is too flexible in comparison to the back of the shoulder joint, the joint begins to sit with an abnormal forward translation of the humerus upon the glenoid fossa. This, I have observed to be found in MOST climbers-

To the right: How far can you reach up behind your back? Does your shoulderblade 'wing' off your back like mine does? Though this person can do the motion, their shoulder is cheating by rotating the shoulder blade and not creating motion at the back of the shoulder joint itself. This is a shoulder injury after a labral tear in the image directly above. Now its time to focus on flexibilty to get the most out of this shoulder-

We can eliminate these abnormal joint mechanics and increase shoulder strenght issues by restoring normal flexibility and motion to the back of the shoulder joint. Here is where our special stretches come in-

Flexibilty first, then strengthening...

Exercise 1- Broken Bird

Difficulty Level: Easy. If you have a new injury or your shoulder is easily irritated, this is NOT the stretch for you.

The beauty of this pose is that it forces the shoulderblade to be flat as the arm is internally rotated to end range and is then adducted (brought towards centerline) to rest on your hip, or if you are flexible, your low back...

The Broken Bird Pose:

Broken Bird heals tight shoulders-

This stretch is designed as a Yin yoga pose, which means it is supposed to be somethign you can relax into... Even though it may be uncomfortable. As time goes by, from 30 seconds to 2 minutes, you will notice different parts of your shoulder will relax and the stretch will move to another internal region.

Exercise 2 - Banded Broken Bird

Shoulder Mobility Band Stretch for the Posterior Shoulder

Difficulty Level: Moderate-Difficult.