Archive for shoulder health

Loaded Shoulder Girdle Mobility

Posted in Z.S. Tennis with tags , , , , , on May 31, 2011 by zenithstrength

Today’s post is about increasing shoulder mobility through unique loaded implements.

Indian club swinging and mace swings are a great way to increase range of motion of the shoulder girdle and improve strength in multiple planes. You can start with a Indian clubs and progress to clubbells or a mace.

We like to use Indian clubs and incorporate Mace swings to improve grip strength improve shoulder girdle mobility. In addition some  of our tennis athletes have also noticed an improvement in serve velocity. Is there a correlation? It would be an interesting study.

If you have never swung a mace give it a try. It is much harder than it looks and as I mentioned previously it’s  a fantastic way to improve grip strength.

Below is a video of the traditional mace swing.

You can get a mace and other cool grip toys at Stronger Grip.

Remember to assess and qualify that  the athlete is ready to use the loaded implement.

Shoulder blades should be pulled down and packed and there should be no shrugging of the shoulders during the swings.

In addition make sure you are addressing any soft tissue restrictions such as the pecs/lats/t-spine and mobilizing them as well before giving these a go.

Here’s a great lat stretch.

Give these a try and see if you notice an improvement in mobility.

Stay Healthy,



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.


3 Observations from the Gilroy NTRP Tournament.

Posted in Z.S. conditioning, Z.S. Tennis with tags , , , , , , on July 3, 2010 by zenithstrength

This past weekend I volunteered my time and set up a booth with     Dr. Armen from Active Spinal at the Gilroy Garlic Festival NTRP tournament.

Here’s 3 observations I noticed with many of the players who came in to get some soft tissue work done.

1. A lack of awareness regarding warming up and movement preparation. Playing tennis is extremely hard on the body and creates a lot of wear and tear in the shoulders, knees and low back. One way to decrease the chance of injury is to make sure you warm up and prepare your body for the demands of the game. By using a soft ball and/or a foam roller and rolling out the lower body and mid back, and combining this with some dynamic movements to loosen up the hip flexors, hamstrings and hip adductors you will ensure longevity in your tennis career.

2.Get Assessed by a qualified professional. A simple overhead squat test will show movement restrictions/tightness in the ankles, hips and mid back and can give clues as to why, a specific muscle is injured. Not surprisingly when I had the players perform this test, the majority of issues were with ankle mobility issues and hip tightness. Not addressing these issues and only training on the tennis court will ultimately lead to an  injury and time off the court.

3.Training and staying in shape for tennis. This goes hand in hand with the first two observations. Not training or preparing for tournaments will lead to an injury. If you are going to compete and play at a high level you might want to seriously consider investing in a qualified strength coach who can help address movement issues and design a program to get you performing at higher level.

By training for tennis, I also don’t mean doing endless sets of benching which is going to lead to a shoulder issue. Focus on getting the lower body stronger, on push up variations instead of benching and strengthening the  mid back and scapular stabilizers with rowing variations.

Train hard!


Sandbags for Shoulder Mobility

Posted in Xtreme Tennis Conditioning, Z.S. conditioning, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , on April 17, 2010 by zenithstrength

Since we work with a lot of tennis players at Zenith Strength, shoulder health and mobility is one of our primary concerns. Sandbags are a great tool to use in any strength and conditioning program. Josh Henkin, is a strength coach widely regarded as the sand bag guy. Here’s a great shoulder mobility exercise that Josh demonstrates in the video using a sandbag integrating the hips and mid back which simulate movements in certain sports. Using tennis as an example, the athlete needs proper mobility in the mid back and hips to coil during the forehand and backhand stroke and needs to be able to efficiently transfer force through the hips up the chain to the mid back to maximize power output.

Stay tuned as I will discuss a few sandbag lifts that can be incorporated in your lifting program to improve strength and explosiveness in the upcoming post.

In strength,


Shoulder Mobility Drills

Posted in Xtreme Tennis Conditioning, Z.S. Tennis, Z.S. Training with tags , , , , , , on March 16, 2010 by zenithstrength

In the last post I talked about shoulder health and the importance of having mobility in the mid back or T-spine.
Here are a couple of drills to improve your mid back mobility.

The first video is basic soft tissue preparation to loosen up the mid back and work on thoracic extension range of motion which is necessary in athletes regardless of their sport.  I got this idea from the Inside and Out dvd. I highly recommend this if you are a strength coach working with athletes involved in overhead sports.

The second video is a drill that I also learned about from the Inside out dvd, used to work on improving mid back rotation. We use this drill with the tennis players that we work with as mid back rotation is used extensively for the serve and ground strokes.

Add these to your warm up routine to keep the shoulders healthy.

In strength,


Shoulder Strategies for Tennis Players

Posted in Xtreme Tennis Conditioning with tags , , , , , , on March 7, 2010 by zenithstrength

As a strength coach who works primarily with tennis players, it is paramount to keep my players healthy so they can continue competing at high level. The shoulder joint is highly susceptible to injury, and I see a lot of soft tissue restrictions and compensations with many of the tennis players who train at  Zenith Strength. A lot of the restriction involves poor mid back/t-spine mobility and poor scapula stability.

Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson and Bill Hartman are some of the best coaches that I refer to regarding shoulder health and training. Here’s the link to Robertson’s latest post about shoulder solutions. If you are a tennis player or athlete who is involved in a throwing sport, the information here will help prevent long-term shoulder issues.

Check it out.

Stay tuned as I will be posting videos regarding foam roller/soft tissue work on the mid back, and warm-ups for the shoulder girdle in the upcoming posts.

In Strength,


Shoulder Health Part II

Posted in Xtreme Tennis Conditioning with tags , , on January 20, 2010 by zenithstrength

Since I didn’t delve into the anatomy and biomechanics involved in preventing shoulder injuries in the previous post, here’s a great article by B.J. Baker who’s the former strength and conditioning coordinator for the Boston Red Sox talking much more in-depth about the keys to preventing shoulder injuries for athletes involved in overhead sports.

Check out Complex Forces.