Overhead Lifting Considerations

Even though I consider the typical “shoulder” day ridiculous, in my opinion there are many ways to do certain overhead lifts properly (aka not seated) to keep a person’s shoulder safe.  Typically, the best athletes generate the most force through their lower extremity whether it is sprinter, baseball player throwing a ball, soccer playing kicking a ball, or a football player creating power from  his feet to lay a hit.  Basically, the legs are the powerhouse to produce the power in athletic movements.  So onto the considerations that I have learned about over the year or so… 

Shoulder presses should at least be performed standing for a variety of reasons

  • 1) In the above statement I put, athletes produce force from the ground up and the general population sits too much anyway.
  • 2) Seated presses (unless there is some type of lower extremity injury) can restrict optimal muscle activity–seated can restrict the range of motions at the scapula-thoracic/gleno-humeral joint
  • 3) Pinning the scapula back on the bench can alter the scapular-humeral rhythm which is paramount for safe overhead lifting movements–(heard this from Robert Paniarello PT)
  • 4) This lack of rhythm will lead to screwed up muscle force couples and stabilizers.. Meaning that the deltoids are going to get overworked and the scapular stabilizers, underworked–we know that these stabilizers need to work optimally in conjunction with the deltoid to create safe overhead movements (a main reason why people may have problems with overhead pressing in the first place)

Another interesting tidbit is to test for the extensibility of someone’s latissimus dorsi..you know, the one in which every guy thinks he has huge shoulders and walks around like this guy.

If you walk around like this, you might not be able to get you arm overhead

      The latissimus dorsi has a huge attachment  through the throacolumbar fascia from the lower 6 thoracic spinous processes, all the lumbar spinous processes, down to the sacrum and iliac crest.  This allows the muscle to affect the lumbopelvic alignment.  Sahrmann describes these compensatory patterns in her book, so that a short lat (as the arm is raised overhead) will cause an extension force, tilting the pelvis anteriorly.  Even if the lat is not short, there is a possibility that the abdominals are not stiff enough to resist the extension at the lumbar spine as the arm is overhead (relative flexibility). This is another case why we need to work on muscle tissue all the time.  Looking at the test below, if the girl were to extend at the lumbar spine while getting her wrist closer to the floor, this would be an example of the lat possibly being short or stiff.

Lat test goal= to get wrist to floor without lumbar extension

These are just some considerations to look for in order to keep the shoulders safe.  Another quick consideration when shoulder pressing with DB’s is to press with the palms facing each other which allows more space in the shoulder joint to get overhead. 



Categories: Injury Prevention, Strength Training

Tags: , , ,

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