Shoulder drills, yum! Having mobile shoulders is important, but equally as important is having strong shoulders. But how do we do that without tightening up the shoulders?
~"Won't strengthening my shoulders tighten them up?"~
This is a question I get asked a lot. And it totally makes sense. Wouldn't strengthening the shoulders cause them to tighten up? Here are my thoughts about this...when I tell people they need to strengthen their shoulders, a lot of times they will respond with "But I have great upper body strength. I can do lots of pull ups, push ups, etc." The type of strengthening I am talking about though is more stabilization related. Think exercises that do not require the use of extra weight, but instead only your body weight or a resistance band. These are the types of strength exercises I am referring to. By working on these stabilization exercises, it will cause your back/shoulders to feel stronger and more supported, allowing an increase range of motion to potentially happen.
~Smaller movement is better~
When working with my students, I always say this phrase, especially when it comes to shoulder stabilization. It is so tempting when exercising, to try and create big movement. But with shoulder stabilization, you want to make sure you are super controlling your movement. You want to make sure the correct muscles are engaging to move your body. Sometimes form will be compensated, just so there is "big" movement. I personally would rather see smaller movement with correct muscle engagement, versus huge movement with form being compensated. So when trying these drills, be aware of your technique and correct muscle engagement.
~Seek outside help~
I have worked with such a variety of people: athletes who have been working on their flexibility since they were children, and others who have just recently started getting into flexibility. Some people have naturally tighter shoulders/upper back while others are more mobile. All in all, it has been such a variety of people/flexibility levels. I can honestly say, that I find shoulders/upper back to be one of the most finicky, hard to stretch areas of the body. That being said, I think if you are having any issues with your shoulders, upper back, pecks, ribs, or neck, it would be awesome to consult with a physical therapist or athletic trainer. They might be able to help you understand what is going on in your body. They could help you identify specific weaknesses, injuries, past injury or strain, and many other things. And by identifying any of these problems, it will allow you to train smarter, which will benefit your flexibility greatly.
The drills I have in my videos are designed to help with general shoulder stabilization. Like I said in the previous paragraph, if you are having any pain in the upper part of your torso, I think it would be a great idea to seek the opinion of a physical therapist. When doing the drills I have in my video, make sure the shoulders are warmed up before hand. And like previous stated, pay attention to your technique and form. Air on the side of doing small movement correctly, versus doing big movement that might have compensated form. You can find my stabilization drills on my Vimeo website at: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility.
~"But Rochelle, I need to see examples of stabilization drills"~
And you can! Head over to my Vimeo page (https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility )
and subscribe! I have a video of me showing and explaining 15 minutes of stabilization drills. Hope you can check it out!