PT617: Bulletproof Your Shoulders

PT617: Bulletproof Your Shoulders

Author: Kendall Percich


Bulletproof Your Shoulders Workshop

Join me on Saturday, April 1st at our Braintree location for a Bulletproof Your Shoulders Workshop. This event is free for members and only $10 for Non Members.



Did you know a stiff upper back (or thoracic spine) can lead to shoulder dysfunction? If the thoracic spine has limited mobility it puts more stress demand on the shoulders which can lead to injury. One way to combat this is to perform thoracic spine extensions with the foam roller to work on mid back extension and open books or world’s greatest to work on mid back rotation.

Shoulder mobility and flexibility are equally as important when it comes to shoulder health. Make sure you take the time to warm up properly before any upper body workout. This can include pressing, pushing, burpees, snatches and anything where you will be hanging from the rig. My favorite shoulder mobility/flexibility exercises are: PVC pass throughs, PVC around the worlds, swimmers, the banded lat stretch and banded pec stretch. Perfforming 2-3 sets of 20-30 seconds per movement is a great start to get those shoulders ready for work!

Another contributor to shoulder pain/issues can be cause by tight/immobile traps. The traps are the muscles that run from the neck to the rear side of our shoulders. As CrossFitters, even though we constantly use our upper traps they shouldn’t be overly tight or always sore. Upper traps tend to be the “work horse” muscle that will compensate when our upper back/shoulder (periscapular) muscles are weak. Perform face pulls, banded rows, banded pull aparts or try out the crossover symmetry bands to work on your upper back muscles so that they can contribute with stabilizing during overhead exercises as well as pushing and pulling motions.

Shoulder stabilizer muscles like the rotator cuff are another key component when referring to overall shoulder health. They help to keep the shoulder in its correct position during overhead lifts, pushes or pulls. When working on strengthening stabilizer muscle groups, we should focus more on motor control and static style movements. My favorite shoulder stability exercises are: inverted kettlebell carry, half kneeling inverted kettlebell press and banded wall clocks. 

You'll often hear people refer to this type of training as "Accessory Work". This might suggest that its "extra" or "supplemental" for that matter. Instead off thinking of these movements as extra work, think of them as prerequisite before any upper body/shoulder work. In other words, build this into your routine and even consider starting them up before class as it will go a long way! Fortunately through our program at CF617, we hit a lot of these movements in our daily class warmups. But everyone is different and some people might require a little longer prep work than others. If you are one of those people, NEVER MISS THE WARMUP. Treat it with as much care as you do your strengthh piece or WOD. Improving the mind to muscle connection of your periscapular muscles and shoulder stabilizer muscles while maintaining a mobile shoulder joint and thoracic spine will keep your shoulders healthy, happy and strong. Say that ten times fast!

- PT Kendall :)