Assessing for Lat and Teres Tightness with Overhead Shoulder Mobility

Limitations in overhead shoulder mobility are common and often a frequent source of nagging shoulder pain and decreased performance.  Any loss of shoulder elevation mobility can be an issue with both fitness enthusiasts and athletes.  Just look at all the exercises that require a good amount of shoulder mobility in the fitness, Crossfit, and sports performance worlds.  Overhead press, thrusters, overhead squats, and snatches are some of the most obvious, put even exercises like pullups, handstands, wall balls, and hanging knee and toe ups can be problematic, especially when combined with speed and force such as during a kipping pull up.

Assessing for Lat and Teres Tightness with Overhead Shoulder MobilityWhen assessing for limitations in overhead shoulder elevation, there are several things you need to evaluate.  I’ve discussed many of these in several past blog posts and Inner Circle webinars on How to Assess Overhead Shoulder Mobility.

I am worried about what I am seeing on the internet right now.

I feel like the mobility trends I am seeing are focused on torquing the shoulder joint to try to improve overhead mobility.  Remember, the shoulder is a VERY mobile joint that tends to run into trouble from a lack of stability.  Trying to stretch out the joint or shoulder capsule should never be the first thing you attempt with self mobilization techniques.  In fact, I have found it causes way more problems than it solves.

Think about it for a second…

If your shoulder can’t fully elevate, jamming it into more elevation is only going to cause more issues. Find the cause. [Click to Tweet]

In my experience, the focus should be on the soft tissue around the joint, not the shoulder joint itself.  The muscles tend to be more of the mobility issue from my experience than the joint.  Just think about all the chronic adaptations that occur from out postures and habits throughout the date.

Two of the most muscles that I see causing limitations in overhead shoulder mobility at the latissimus dorsi and the teres major.

Here’s a quick and easy way to assess the lat and teres during arm elevation.

 

Assessing and Improving Overhead Shoulder Mobility

For those interested in learning more, I have a few Inner Circle webinars on how to assess and improve overhead shoulder mobility:

 

 

4 Keys to Implement Long Term Athletic Development

This week’s guest post comes from my friends Julie Hatfield and Dave Gleason from the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA).  Dave has recently teamed up with Toby Brooks and Wil Fleming to create a program helping you implement long term athletic development with your youth athletes.  It’s a great program with concepts that we have integrated into our programming at Champion PT and Performance.  The IYCA is good to my readers and has offered us an exclusive 50% off the program this week only.  More info after the article!

 

4 Keys to Implement Long Term Athletic Development

Implementing Long Term Athletic Development TrainingYou have likely heard the term, Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD).  Contradictory to common belief that sport specialization will achieve great success, LTAD is a progressive and injury preventative approach to youth fitness and sport performance that we cannot afford to lose site of.  Simply put, sport specialization should come later in life, and our youngest of athletes (6-16 year olds) are in dire need of coaches to give them a strong and sturdy foundation.

The figure, and concept of Long Term Athlete Development,  indicates that movement skills are at the foundation of the ideal athlete.  Once movement skills are mastered, then it is appropriate to move on to power, speed & agility skills.  Lastly, we implement sport skills and specialization, but not till the athlete has achieved success in the foundational movement skills.

Many performance coaches struggle implementing LTAD. It is a delicate balance between giving kids (and parents) what they want, and what they actually need.

Youth fitness expert, Dave Gleason has put together 4 Keys to Implementing LTAD quickly, so you can have the confidence to add the concepts of LTAD into your sessions, TODAY! 

1. Find Your Why

It comes down to what you really want to do. If you are working with kids, it really needs to be your purpose in life.  They deserve that.  It is a crucial step in all of this.  If you aren’t passionate about working with kids, and doing what is right for them- then this is not the job for you.  If you are…thank YOU.  Next step…

2. Educate yourself

It’s about getting the right tools to work with kids 6-18 years old. The International Youth Conditioning Association is an organization that specializes in providing education for youth fitness professionals.  They specialize in pediatric/youth fitness and provide coaches & trainers with a valuable balance of practical application and science.  For more education on Long Term Athlete Development, Youth Fitness Training and much more, check them out.

Bottom line, get educated to specifically work with kids!

3. Schedule

Scheduling your LTAD program can be tough.  Look at your school systems in your area and obtain their schedule.  Know when they are getting out of school and schedule your sessions accordingly.  

Create a schedule that is right for most people and keep it constant.  Consistency in your schedule will allow parents to plan for your LTAD program!

4. Get Started

Once you have the education and are equipped to train young athletes and incorporate Long Term Athlete Development …it is time to get started.  So many do all the steps, then worry that they aren’t qualified.  When you wait, the kids in your community are losing out.  If you have the passion, education and you have a schedule that will work for you, then it’s time to GET STARTED!

The Kids NEED you.

 

Save 50% on the IYCA’s New Long Term Athletic Development Roadmap

Long term athletic developmentAs I mentioned above, the IYCA has been very generous to my readers and have offered us all 50% off their new program from Toby Brooks, Dave Gleason, and Wil Fleming on implementing Long Term Athletic Development in your programming and system.

The offer ends this week on 1/31/16, so don’t delay.  This is a great product that has helped shape what we do at Champion!

 

 

 

How to Assess Overhead Shoulder Mobility

The latest Inner Circle webinar recording on How to Assess Overhead Shoulder Mobility is now available.

How to Assess Overhead Shoulder Mobility

How to assess overhead shoulder mobilityThis month’s Inner Circle webinar is a live demonstration of How to Assess Overhead Shoulder Mobility .  In this recording of a live student inservice from Champion, I overview my process for assessing loss of overhead mobility.  This is a very common occurrence at Champion and something we do all day.  Many people don’t even realize they have a mild loss of mobility.

In this webinar, I’ll cover:

  • Why you must look at the shoulder, scapula, thoracic spine, and lumbar spine
  • What to look for during active elevation
  • How to assess for passive loss of motion
  • A couple of easy tweaks to assess if loss of mobility is coming from the joint or soft tissue
  • How to teach someone self assessments so they can monitor themselves

To access this webinar:

 

 

 

Do Tight Hip Flexors Correlate to Glute Weakness?

Lower crossed syndrome, as originally described by Vladimir Janda several decades ago, is commonly sited to describe the muscle imbalances observed with anterior pelvic tilt posture.

Janda Assessment and Treatment of Muscle ImbalanceJanda described lower crossed syndrome to explain how certain muscle groups in the lumbopelvic area get tight, while the antagonists get weak or inhibited.  Or, as Phil Page describes in his book overviewing the Janda Approach, “Weakness from from muscle imbalances results from reciprocal inhibition of the tight antagonist.”  Assessment and Treatment of Muscle Imbalances: The Janda Approach is an excellent book that I recommend if you’re new to the concepts.

When you look at a drawing of this concept, you can see how it starts to make sense.  Tightness in the hip flexors and low back are associated with weakness of abdominals and glutes.

Lower Cross Syndrome

 

I realize this is a very two dimensional approach and probably not completely accurate in it’s presentation, however it not only seems to make biomechanical sense, it also correlates to what I see at Champion nearly daily.

Yet despite the common acceptance of these imbalance patterns, there really isn’t much research out there looking at these correlations.

 

Do Tight Hip Flexors Correlate to Glute Weakness?

Do Tight Hip Flexors Correlate to Glute WeaknessA recent study was publish in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy looking at the EMG activity between the two-hand and one-hand kettlebell swing.  While I enjoyed the article and comparision of the two KB swing variations, the authors had one other finding that peaked my interest even more.  And if you just read the title of the paper, you would have never seen it!

In the paper, the authors not only measured glute EMG activity during the kettlebell swing, but they also measure hip flexor mobility using a modified Thomas Test.  The authors found moderate correlations between hip flexor tightness and glute EMG activity.

The tighter your hip flexors, the less EMG was observed in the glutes during the kettlebell swing. [Click to Tweet]

While this has been theorized since Janda first described in the 1980’s, to my knowledge this is the first study that has shown this correlation during an exercise.

 

Implications

It’s often the little findings of study that help add to our body of knowledge.  This simple study showed us that there does appear to be a correlated between your hip flexor mobility and EMG activity of the glutes.  There are a few implications that you can take from this study:

  • Both two-hand and one-hand kettlebell swings are great exercises to strengthen the glutes
  • However, perhaps we need to assure people have adequate hip flexor mobility prior to starting.  I know at Champion we feel this way and spend time assuring people have the right mobility and ability to hip hinge before starting to train the kettlebell swing
  • If trying to strengthen the glutes, it appears that you may also want focus on hip flexor mobility, as is often recommended.  While a common recommendation, I bet many people skip this step.
  • This all makes your strategy to work with people with anterior pelvic tilt even more important.  Here is how I work with anterior pelvic tilt.

So yes, it does appear that hip flexor mobility correlates to glute activity and should be considering when designing programs.

 

How to Assess the Scapula

The latest Inner Circle webinar recording on How to Assess the Scapula is now available.

How to Assess the Scapula

How to assess scapular dyskinesisThis month’s Inner Circle webinar is a live demonstration of How to Assess the Scapula.  In this recording of a live student inservice from Champion, I overview everything you should (and shouldn’t) be looking for when assessing the scapula.  When someone has a big nerve injury with significant winging or scapular dyskinesis, the assessment of the scapula is pretty easy.  But how do you detect the subtle alterations in posture, position, and dynamic movement?  By being able to identify a few subtle findings, you can really enhance how you write a rehab or training program.

In this webinar, I’ll cover:

  • What to look for in regard to static posture and scapular position
  • How to check to see if static postural asymmetries really have an impact on dynamic scapular movement
  • What really is normal scapulothoracic rhythm (if there really is a such thing as normal!)?
  • How to reliably assess for scapular dyskinesis
  • How winging during the concentric and eccentric phases of movement changes my thought process
  • How to see if scapular position or movement is increasing shoulder pain
  • How to see if scapular position or movement is decreasing shoulder strength

To access this webinar:

 

 

 

A Simple Test for Scapular Dyskinesis You Must Use

A common part of my examinations includes assessing for abnormal scapular position and movement, which can simply be defined as scapular dyskinesis.  Scapular dyskinesis has long been theorized to predispose people to shoulder injuries, although the evidence has been conflicting.

Whenever data is conflicting in research articles, you need to closely scrutinize the methodology.  One particular flaw that I have noticed in some studies looking at the role of scapular dyskinesis in shoulder dysfunction has involved how the assess and define scapular dyskinesis.

Like anything else, when someone has a significant issue with scapular dyskinesis it is very apparent and obvious on examination.  But being able to detect subtle alterations in the movement of the scapula may be more clinically relevant.  There’s a big difference between someone that has a large amount of winging while concentrically elevating their arm versus someone that has a mild issues with control of the scapula while eccentrically lowering their arm.

Most people will not have a large winging of their scapula while elevating their arm.  This represents a more significant issue, such as a nerve injury.  However, a mild amount of scapular muscle weakness can change the way the scapula moves and make it difficult to control while lowering.

 

A Simple Test for Scapular Dyskinesis

One of the simplest assessments you can perform for scapular dyskinesis is watching the scapula move during shoulder flexion.  Performing visual assessment of the scapula during shoulder flexion has been shown to be a reliable and valid way to assess for abnormal scapular movement.

That’s it.  Crazy, right?  That simple!  Yet, I’m still amazed at how many times people tell me no one has ever looked at how well their scapula moves with their shirt off.

However, there is one little tweak you MUST do when performing this assessment…

You have to use a weight in their hand!

Here is a great example of someone’s scapular dyskinesis when performing shoulder flexion with and without an external load.  The photo on the left uses no weight, while the photo on the right uses a 4 pound dumbbell:

scapular dyskinesis

As you can see, the image on the right shows a striking increase in scapular dyskinesis.  I was skeptical after watching him lift his arm without weight in the photo on the left, however, everything became very clear when adding a light weight to the shoulder flexion movement.  With just a light load, the ability to prevent the scapula from winging while eccentrically lowering the arm becomes much more challenging.

I should also note that there was really no significant difference in scapular control or movement during the concentric portion of the motion raising his arms overhead:

scapular winging concentric

This person doesn’t have a significant issue or nerve damage, he simply just needs some strengthening of his scapular muscles.  But if you didn’t observe his scapula with his shirt off or with a dumbbell in his hand, you may have missed it!

 

How to Assess for Scapular Dyskinesis

In this month’s Inner Circle webinar, I am going to show you a live demonstration of how I assess scapular position and movement.  I’ve had past talks on how to assess scapular position and how to treat scapular dyskinesis, however I want to put it all together with a demonstration of exactly how I perform a full scapular movement assessment and go over things I am looking for during the examination.

I’ll be filming the video and posting later this month.  Inner Circle members will get an email when it is posted.

 

 

 

Are Pre-Workout Supplements Good for You? Taking a Look Behind the Smoke Screen

Today’s guest post comes from Champion PT and Performance Strength Coach Rob Sutton (@rjsutton16).  Rob discusses the health concerns of many pre-workout supplements, and for good reason!  Rob shares a very personal experience of how he really hurt his own health from this class of supplements.  Great info for everyone.  I know I’m sticking to by cup of black coffee as my “pre-workout” supplement!

 

Are Pre-Workout Supplements Good for You?  Taking a Look Behind the Smoke Screen

When it comes to making gains in the gym, whether that be weight loss or muscle gain, many people often turn to supplements to help them reach their goals. A high number of gym goers use pre -orkout supplements to enhance their training experience in hopes of getting a better training session. This “pre-workout” class of supplements are promoted to give you more energy and stamina to get through a tough workout.

While there is most certainly a time and place for the right dietary supplements, I have a problem with the majority of these pre-workout supplements, which essentially are stimulants.

 

The Problem with the Supplement Industry

The supplement industry is a juggernaut. According to Forbes, what’s known as the Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements group, reported nutritional supplements alone produced about $32 billion in revenue in 2012. By the year 2021, nutritional supplements plan to double in revenue to about $60 billion. Gone are the times where it was only meatheads looking to have muscles popping out of their eyelids, buying supplements. The general public and athletes everywhere are now using supplements to aid in their diet and increase performance.

My problem with the supplement industry is the misleading, sneaky, and deceptiveness that is present.

Companies use big words and outrageous claims to market their product to consumers. “Explosive Energy”, “Super Crazy Pumps”, “Increase Strength 317%”, “Growth Hormone Matrix”. All include buzzwords to help aid in claims and gimmicks that the companies want you to believe. And every company claims to provide the highest workout energy on the market. All use colorful labels and big fonts to blind your senses.

Have you ever read through the directions for pre workout supplements? Here some examples from popular pre-workout supplements:

  • “Warning: Use only in accordance with directions for use and warnings.”
  • “DO NOT exceed recommended dosage due to the extremely potent nature of ingredients contained in….”
  • “Assess your tolerance”.

What are we putting into our bodies? There are more warning labels on these than there are on heavy duty cleaning products.

 

How Pre-Workout Supplements Hurt My Health

Now, I was young once and fell into these traps before like so many others. Although, that has come with a price.

About 7 years ago I began experiencing an abnormal feeling in my chest. It was quite obviously in my heart. It felt as if my heart was skipping a beat. It was happening fairly often and I would notice it mostly at rest. I admit it was something I had ignored for many years. As it began to get worse, it was time to seek out medical advice. Long story short, I was diagnosed in 2012 with (Pre-Mature ventricular contractions, PVC’s). Through several holter monitors and experiments with supplements I was taking, I only remained using whey protein. After cutting out pre workout supplements, my PVC’s were diminished by 97.7%! It was determined the PVC’s were caused by a supplement I had been taking in years past. All bought through local nutrition stores.

There is 1 ingredient in particular that may have caused the heart arrhythmia that I continue to feel every single day. It’s called 1, 3 dimethylamylamine, or DMAA for short.

 

History of 1, 3 Dimethylamylamine (DMAA)

DimethylamylamineA brief history on DMAA, it was created in 1948 to be used as a nasal decongestant. It had a trademarked named called Forthane. The way the drug worked was via vasoconstriction. The blood vessels in the nose would constrict blood flow, leading to less mucus discharge. This is how many popular over the counter nasal decongestant meds work today but with the absence of DMAA.

Forthane was pulled from shelves in the early 80’s due to dramatic side effects including headaches, tremors, and high blood pressure. DMAA is what’s called a sympathomimetic drug. Which means its mimics the actions of the sympathetic nervous system. On an hourly basis at Champion, we are performing drills and exercises to relax the sympathetic nervous system not stimulate it. We are already stimulated enough!

Supplement companies use this drug because of its high stimulant properties. If DMAA was known to cause ill side effects 30 years ago, how is it still out there for the public to buy? It is in fact banned by the World Doping Agency and reads false positives for amphetamines on urine tests. There is a plethora of scientific journals and facts regarding this subject as well. But what I have learned from a very reputable Physical Therapist and Strength Coach Jeff Cavaliere in March 2011, is that through what we could call a loophole in the “system”, companies can include this ingredient by stating the source of the molecule. The source in this case is geranium oil. Which is an FDA approved food product. DMAA can be extracted from the geranium plant. Some research suggests that extremely small amounts are found in the plant itself. DMAA can also be seen on supplement labels under a giant list of other names including geranium extract, geranium oil extract, and methylhexaneamine, to name a few.

A list of all names and products known to contain the drug can be found here:

 

DMAACavaliere was ahead of the curve when he presented the problem with this drug in 2011 and the potential health problems related with a drug that causes the blood vessels to constrict. Constricting blood vessels and arteries, leading to high blood pressure, combined with exercise can be a harmful mix. Lets mix in a high amount of caffeine and even more ingredients with stimulant properties as well. This is when this subject was put on my radar and I began to research possible supplements that contained DMAA. And indeed I found some, and some I had taken in the past. The ingredient pictures shown are from 2 pre-workout supplement labels that I had used about 8 to 10 years ago. They have since been changed…. but why?

After Jeff Cavaliere turned me onto this issue, I discarded the supplements I had…sorry my heart just skipped a beat…. that included this potentially harmful chemical. And I then kept my eye on this topic in the future.

In 2012/2013 the FDA put its foot down on supplement companies, ordering them to pull this already illegal drug. As of April 11, 2013, the FDA received 86 reports of illnesses and deaths associated with supplements containing DMAA. These are just a few case reports associated with deaths and severe health problems linked to DMAA.

Hold on it gets better…

Companies began to comply with the FDA’s orders. One popular supplement company, also in April 2013 sent out an email to subscribers about a new formula for their pre workout supplement. Here’s what it stated:

“______has been our #1 selling pre-workout supplement for years and now it is no longer being produced. We are down to two flavors, ______and_______, and what we have in stock is it!! If you want to get your hands on some of the last remaining bottles, you should act fast…quantities on these are extremely limited and quickly selling off. Get it before this original formula is gone forever! Only $21.95!!”

This is complete BS!

Why are they creating a new formula? Because the old one is killing people!! So lets start giving this poison to as many people as we can for a discounted price. Like I said, misleading, sneaky, and deceptive.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) had identified another product by the same company with DMAA in it. They identified 100 people who developed hepatitis from using this product. 47 of those needed hospitalization, 3 needed liver transplants, and 1 died.

 

What’s the Next Pre-Workout Ingredient to be Banned?

What will be the next ingredient that is in current supplements, to cause as big an uproar as 1, 3 dimeth? I bet you it’s out there.

Here are an unfortunate two possibilities. Beta-methylphenylethylamine (BMPEA) and Synephrine. Both have already had bad press and have been linked to health issues. An article published on WebMD talks about how in April of 2015, the FDA sent warning letters to five supplement companies whose products contain BMPEA, asking them to stop distributing products containing the drug.

This sounds strikingly similar to the beginning of the end of DMAA back in 2012.

In 2012, my cardiologist made me aware of the drug Synephrine. Synephrine, like BMPEA, and DMAA is a powerful stimulant. This was in one of, if not multiple pre workout supplements that I had taken in the past. (Refer back to photos). Synephrine is also disguised in many supplements just as DMAA was. It may also be labeled as Bitter Orange or Citrus Aurantium. Just as DMAA, the source of the drug is being labeled, which helps in the legality. Synephrine is not currently a banned substance.

Synephrine

Is it Worth the Risk?

Think about it, do we really need an exotic plant extract from China to help us lift more weight? Do we need to search for an ingredient buried at opposite ends of the earth to lose 10 pounds?

OVERWHELMING NO!!!

Work hard for your goals and they will come. What happened to eating properly, getting enough sleep, and staying properly hydrated. That is my pre workout.

 

 

 

How to Coach and Perform Shoulder Program Exercises

The latest Inner Circle webinar recording on How to Coach and Perform Shoulder Program Exercises is now available.

How to Coach and Perform Shoulder Program Exercises

How to Coach and Perform Shoulder Program ExercisesThis month’s Inner Circle webinar is on How to Coach and Perform Shoulder Program Exercises.  While this seems like a simple topic, the concepts discussed here are key to enhancing shoulder and scapula function.  There are many little tweaks you can perform for shoulder exercises to make them more effective.  If you perform rotator cuff or scapula exercises poorly, you can be facilitating compensatory patterns.  In this webinar, we discuss:

  • How to correctly perform rotator cuff and scapula exercises
  • Coaching cues that you can use to assure proper technique
  • How to enhance exercises by paying attention to technique
  • How to avoid compensation patterns and assure shoulder program exercises are as effective as possible

To access this webinar:

 

 

 

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