Your body will find a way to achieve a particular motion, without necessarily taking into account optimal movement. For example, you want to do an overhead press, a pull up, a handstand, or simply reach a higher cabinet, your body will take the path of least resistance to get there. What most commonly happens is that as you reach overhead, your lower back needs to hyperextend in order for you to achieve the final degrees of motion necessary to put your hands over your head.

Over time, we start developing increased stiffness in our upper back, and instability or hyper mobility in our lower back, which over time can lead to a wide array of issues. This is a big deal because our lumbar spine is built for stability and our thoracic spine is built for rotation, flexion and extension- or rather it has the potential for it. So, you come to the gym every day and you stretch your lats, flail your arms around, grab bands and hang from them, yet every time you try to do a jerk, barbell press or any sort of overhead motion you can’t seem to get full range of motion or get the barbell in the proper position.

The relationship between the shoulder blades and the thoracic spine is extremely important for injury prevention and optimal overhead mechanics. The higher you need to raise your arms, the higher the demand of thoracic motion required to maintain proper relative shoulder alignment. The following exercises are aimed at improving thoracic rotation and extension in order to improve overhead positions, reduce low back pain and incidence of shoulder injuries.

1. Supine dead bug variation: squeeze a med ball or foam roller between your legs, keep you ribcage DOWN, don’t let your lower back come off the mat
2. Standing resisted rotations: lock your pelvis in place and aim at generating all the motion from your upper back
3. Rocked back quadruped rotation: open all the way and close all the way
4. Segmental rolling: roll segment by segment, flex and extend all the way.

See video below:

STRUGGLE WITH OVERHEAD MOTIONS? ________________________________________ Your body will find a way to achieve a particular motion, without necessarily taking into account optimal movement. For example, you want to do an overhead press, a pull up, a handstand, or simply reach a higher cabinet, your body will take the path of least resistance to get there. What most commonly happens is that as you reach overhead, your lower back needs to hyperextend in order for you to achieve the final degrees of motion necessary to put your hands over your head. ______________________________________ Over time, we start developing increased stiffness in our upper back, and instability or hyper mobility in our lower back, which over time can lead to a wide array of issues. This is a big deal because our lumbar spine is built for stability and our thoracic spine is built for rotation, flexion and extension- or rather it has the potential for it. So, you come to the gym every day and you stretch your lats, flail your arms around, grab bands and hang from them, yet every time you try to do a jerk, barbell press or any sort of overhead motion you can’t seem to get full range of motion or get the barbell in the proper position. ______________________________________ The relationship between the shoulder blades and the thoracic spine is extremely important for injury prevention and optimal overhead mechanics. The higher you need to raise your arms, the higher the demand of thoracic motion required to maintain proper relative shoulder alignment. The following exercises are aimed at improving thoracic rotation and extension in order to improve overhead positions, reduce low back pain and incidence of shoulder injuries. ____________________________________ 1. Supine dead bug variation: squeeze a med ball or foam roller between your legs, keep you ribcage DOWN, don’t let your lower back come off the mat 2. Standing resisted rotations: lock your pelvis in place and aim at generating all the motion from your upper back 3. Rocked back quadruped rotation: open all the way and close all the way 4. Segmental rolling: roll segment by segment, flex and extend all the way.

A post shared by Dr. Stefanie Cohen, DPT (@steficohen) on

By: Dr. Stefanie Cohen, DPT.

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