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My Favorite Exercise Combinations – Installment 9

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Motion at the shoulder joint has now been known to improve through several mechanisms:

  1. Improving soft tissue quality, so signaling can be improved to the motor units that are attached to the muscle fibers involved with these movers.
  2. Reorienting joint position of the glenohumeral joint by improving joint centration.
  3. Improving rib cage position/spinal position in order to improve the brain’s strategy for where “up” actually is with respect to upward movement of the arm.

In this exercise combination, I aim to improve the motoric control of the rib cage, while simultaneously asking the brain to move the shoulder upward through reflexive and reactive exercises.

A Left Jab, Right Hook Combination

After watching Creed about five times in the past 4 weeks, I’ve come to appreciate the simplicity that a simple combination can provide from a foundational level. The most intensive combos can be utilized in order to achieve an outcome – or you can just jab a few times, and give a good hook at the right time and get the same or better effect.

In my opinion, the following combination will be able to improve shoulder motion by doing the following:

  1. Improve rib cage position
  2. Improve recruitment of upward rotators of the scapula
  3. Inhibiting lumbar erectors as stabilizers
  4. Making the shoulder stabilizers fire reactively

So, if you are dancing, looking to improve handstand coordination, or simply aim to improve overhead motion during training, these simple drills can help you immensely.

A front plank has many benefits – it is a great first progression for anterior core involvement, can serve a purpose for a teaching tool for several different exercises, along with providing an adequate muscular endurance challenge for the individual that is lacking the endurance for an upright posture.

However, let’s take some of these other facts into account.

ProtractionWhen you perform a front plank correctly, you will have your shoulder blades slightly protracted and abducted, or fitting on the side of your rib cage. When this occurs, you have several intrinsic muscles within the shoulder girdle firing to stabilize.

Secondarily, you also recruit obliques if you are in a good position from a lower ribcage and pelvic position, so recruiting our athletes to “bring their belt buckle up to their nose” can improve abdominal positioning quickly.

Abdominal ObliquablesBy recruiting internal and external obliques, you can inhibit some of the extension based muscle groups that are often stabilizing in place of these obliques.

And lastly, you can also improve position of the neck by telling individuals to make sure your face is NOT near the ground, but maintain eyes and nose towards the ground – which will help recruit a neutral spinal alignment. This will help turn off some of the cervical neck extensors that many people exhibit during a forward head posture.

Bottoms Up, Bottoms Up…

Finally, you can improve motion of the shoulder by performing a Half Kneeling 1-Arm Bottoms Up KB Press.

Half Kneeling 1-Arm Bottoms Up KB PressIf the kettlebell is bottoms up, the weight will want to tip from side to side, and by reflexively or reactively asking your hand to grip TIGHT, you will also improve recruitment of the rotator cuff of the shoulders. I also try to not start in a retracted scapular position, or even a too protracted and abducted position. In fact, I find that improving thoracic position in the moment while holding the kettlebell will improve shoulder position into a more “packed” position.

As you bring the weight up, think of hiding your ears with your arms. This will make sure you keep a centrated position of your shoulder joint, and making sure you don’t fall forward with your hands or backwards with the weight.

In conclusion, you can combine these two exercises together in this fashion:

A1. Front Plank Arm March – 2 to 3 sets of 20 to 30 seconds (or 6 to 8 inhales / exhales)

A2. Half Kneeling 1-Arm Bottoms Up KB Press – 2 to 3 sets of 5 to 6 per side

If you’re finding yourself having some shoulder issues from a motor control point of view, give this a shot.

As always,

Keep it funky.

-MA