Archive for Optimal Shoulder performance

Top 3 Exercises to Improve Shoulder Internal Range of Motion

Posted in Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2011 by zenithstrength

Lack of internal range of motion or more commonly know in our industry as the “GIRD” is prevalent in sports that involve an overhead motion. Pitchers, tennis players, quarterbacks, swimmers are all susceptible to this.

Basically the rotator cuff and posterior musculature is under high amount of force during  the deceleration phase of throwing or serving.

The result is usually decreased range of internal motion after a hard session of throwing or serving.

Now there are many factors that can lead up to shoulder internal range of motion deficits but the most important factors to consider are Total motion of the Glenhumeral joint on both sides. Total motion= ER+IR.

In order to determine whether a  client  has a deficit in shoulder internal range of motion you would need to compare the measurements of both shoulders. Here’s where it gets fun. According to Myers there is a range of GIRD and 19.7 degrees is the threshold you don’t want to cross. Ideally you want to be in the 12-17 degree range.

As far as total motion is concerned if there it should be similar on both sides and if there is a loss of total motion on the throwing side you are increasing the likelihood of injuring your shoulder.

Now here’s the real scary thing regarding treatment. I have had a few of my clients come in with shoulder issues who have seen a PT prior and  there are PT”s out there who do not distinguish between internal and external range of motion and in my opinion do a terrible job in rehabbing the injury based on a poor diagnosis. Just doing rotator cuff exercises and using electric stim will not get the job done. Make sure your therapist  uses soft tissue modalities in addition to manual stretching. If he/she doesn’t  the bottom line is that you need to go to a qualified PT or Sports Chiro who knows what the heck they are  doing to get you better.

Enough of the ranting.

Here are my 3 favorite exercises to improve shoulder internal range of motion.

1. The cross body stretch.

I learned this from Mike Reinold from the Optimal Shoulder Performance dvd and has become my favorite internal stretch to use

Its a gentle stretch that increases internal range of motion after only 4-5 passes.

2.The sleeper stretch. For those who don’t have the luxury to have therapist or strength coach perform the cross body stretch this is the self help alternative. Some people like this stretch while others avoid it. The key is to make sure that you stabilize the shoulder-blade and be careful not to torque the shoulder. You should use 5% pressure when pulling down into the stretch. Make sure you don’t feel any pain in the anterior shoulder capsule. Below is a picture of Eric Cressey performing the sleeper stretch.

You can do the cross body version as well but again, make sure that you don’t torque your shoulder into internal rotation.

We like to use the Rotater for the sleeper stretch as it helps to keep the humerus relaxed and it works well for our third stretch.

3. The sleeper stretch may not work for everyone and some people may feel a pinch in the anterior capsule  so we have this version with the arm behind the back. Again be careful you don’t torque your shoulder. I like to use the Rotater for this stretch as well.

You can also use  bands to get a distraction of the humerus and turn your  head to add a trap stretch as well. Often if someone has internally rotated shoulders the upper traps will be  tight and over active.

Here’s the  video of the internal stretch with bands.

Try these stretches out to help improve you shoulder internal range of motion and you will be on your way to  preventing shoulders issues in the future.

Stay Healthy.



Top 3 Shoulder Exercises to improve External Range of Motion

Posted in Uncategorized, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2010 by zenithstrength

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.

Take a look at the images  of the service and throwing motion.

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.