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Quick and Easy Shoulder Homework

Shoulder stability will help you to climb like a pro... Already a pro? Bad Ass!

First, this blog is designed on hitting all the basics of a new climber (or an established one) who has not worked on their shoulder region yet. I'm not talking about weights, I'm talking about learning positioning, gaining mobility and flexibility- THEN we'll hit the weights!

First, check out this video to get going on your band exercises, If you don't have any, you can order it here.

Got a bit of stretchy physic banding? Great! Let's work to teach you proper shoulder positioning while we work the weaker muscles of your shoulder...



Follow this video to learn the basics:

1. Length and resistance options with your band

2. Slow is harder than fast

3. Positioning of the shoulder and core is everything

4. If you cheat, it'll show up in more than one region afterwards.

5. Even a newbie can do these, if you're injured, let pain be your guide.

6. Warning Signs- (Clicking, popping, or pain)

These are signs that something needs to be addressed prior to exercising and/or rehab so you don't make your injury worse.

I ask patients NOT to rehab with these symptoms as it is also a sign we are entering the rehabilitation process in the incorrect place (instead we need to begin with mobility, flexibility, and alignment). As these exercises above should not irritate 95% of athletes, this note is only for those who it does irritate.

DON'T DO THIS if you have snapping- (FOR NOW). We don't want to provoke your tendonitis or to increase inflammation. ONE pop is ok, but if you hear a snap with motion each time, check your positioning. If you've done everything you can and you STILL hear a snap, it's time to discontinue the exercise and work to mobilize the tissue around the shoulder- Then come back to it and see if the snap has decreased. If this is you, contact me if you get lost and want assistance in solving your symptoms. Some snapping has taken years to acquire and may not be able to be fixed. Others will decrease quickly if we can untangle the 'why' behind the snapping. Like the twanging of a guitar string, we want to avoid damage and irritation to this area, long term cases have resulted in increased buildup of thick fibers in the region (which we want to avoid at all costs as it is a degenerative process).


1. IF you have snapping- Check these Areas and mobilize prior to the exercises...

You can do this with mobility banding, stretching and/or rolling with a roller...


-Pec Major/Minor

-Levator Scapulae


-Thoracic Spine



If so, your snapping is mechanical and working on these regions might just be the root cause (in addition to posture, repetitive overuse and other bad habits).

Mobility BANDING 101:

Image Left: Mobility Banding for the Shoulder in the position of internal rotation and posterior glide. A different take on "Broken Bird" pose shown in my book-

To the left is a patient using a medium mobility band (not the same as a stretchy band)- this band is stiff and with gentle pressure we can restore normal joint ranges of motion. The athlete to the left was under treatment for a forward shift of her humerus (too many hours on the bike). The mobility banding is a gently applied long term stretch that pulls the bone back towards the back of the joint, reinstating normal joint range of motion and decreasing the abnormal mechanics of the region.

The mobility banding demonstrated by the athlete above is used as a self-care tool, borrowed from CrossFit and physiotherapy clinics around the globe to increase the position as shown in the image below.

Note: The dominant side usually needs more work- which is why I recommend this weekly as part of a self-care 'check up' to ensure you are at optimum.

A continued theme in my teaching- Mobility and stability are everything. If you have one, you need to have the other to ensure safety. If you don't have one, you don't have the other.


Shown Above: Childs Pose.

We all need to be limber but those of us who are excessively tight need stretching the most! You can get the most out of your stretching by working with these hints...

-Breathe gently into your tight regions and ask them to loosen.

-Use mental imaging to ask these muscles to relax and to soften.

Personal Note: My favorite mental image is of water running through rocks in the river As that water increases, these pebbles loosen and roll along the bottom. It helps me to relax and teaches my body what I'm asking of it.

Bodyworkers can heal your body faster and faster as your body begins to work with them, learning to relax where they push and to mold itself into what they ask. This is motor control and the brain and spinal cord in action!! You can do a large part of this yourself at home or at the crag.

Self-Care Tools

Pick tight regions to loosen and lean on your tennis ball, lacrosse ball, etc. As we did above with the stretching, use mental imaging to ask the area to relax and focus on breathing in to the muscle 'knot' you have chosen while pressing gently on it in a 'hurts so good' type of pressure. If the area feels numb, but tight (no pain but very firm or ropey), hold the pressure until it begins to soften. Do NOT push as hard as you can if the area is painless- this means the muscle is just not communicating with you. You don't want to injure it while it begins to work with you again.

All of this is covered in my book, in my coaching, and hopefully elsewhere on this website and on Youtube. Have fun!! ;-)

-Dr Lisa

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