Working with a lot tennis players and overhead throwing athletes means that we are usually dealing with shoulder issues and reducing the risk of rotator cuff injuries.
There is a lot of “stuff” to look for when dealing with overhead athletes and shoulder issues. Generally, you want to take a look at T spine rotation range of movement, internal and external rom and scapula stability issues like winging.
For more information on training athletes and clients with shoulder issues check out Optimal Shoulder Performance, by Eric Cressey and Mike Reinold. There is a ton of info regarding training the injured shoulder and specific shoulder pathologies such as internal vs external impingement and manual techniques to improve dynamic stability of the rotator cuff.
Alright now to get into the importance of external range of motion. Basically the service motion, specifically the cocking phase requires the athlete to externally rotate the shoulder through an extreme range of motion. This is also similar to throwing a baseball.
Without the flexibility to externally rotate the shoulder the athlete is predisposed to myriad of potential injuries.
Below is a list of our 3 favorite exercises to improve external range of motion.
1. Wall Slides. These are great for lower trap activation and since you are improving external range of motion you will also lengthen the pecs if they are tight.
2. Side Lying extension with rotation
This exercises helps to stretch out the pec minor while also improving thoracic extension with rotation.
The pec minor internally rotates the shoulder so stretching it out helps improve your external range of motion.
Check out the video on how to perform the exercise.
3. No Money Drill with bands.
In addition to performing these drills, make sure to stretch out your pecs and lats as they work to internally rotate the shoulder. When these muscles are tight they reduce the external range of motion of the shoulder and also affect the ability of rotator cuff to stabilize the humerus. When you stretch out the internal rotators you end up gaining motion into external rotation and this works similarly with the hips and how tight hip flexors limit hip extension from the glutes. By strengthening the hip extensors you end up improving flexibility in the hip flexors.
Here’s a great lat stretch that we use with a jump stretch band.
Stay healthy and train hard.