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Bullet proofing your Shoulders

I posted this on instagram the other day:

I'm pretty proud of DMG, he's doing great.

But like I said in the Insta post, he's demonstrating everything I bet he was talking about when he drew that Scapula and Humerus on the whiteboard behind him.

When the arm and shoulder (scapula) move well together, we call this Scapularhumeral rhythm. It's when the Arm Bone, Collar Bone, Scapula, Rib Cage and by extension, the spine, all move in a stunning orchestra of coordinated movement that keeps the muscles all in their favourite alignments to spread the load as evenly as possible and generate as much force as possible.

It means that there are no soft tissues, be that muscles, nerves, blood or lymph vessels that are carrying any more load than their fair share. It means that you have good awareness (proprioception) to control the joints and keep them safe, uninjured.

The One Arm Push Up is an exercise that relies on this.

You simply can not learn it if you don't first own the shoulder and scapula.

This little video taken from a workshop a while ago shows the progressions we use to get the one arm push up:

You stay at whatever level you can maintain that perfect form through the shoulder for as long as is needed before moving to the next and the next.

It's a skill as much as it is an exercise.

Done right, you feel the lats, the abs, the quads all engaged. You will start to see your serratus anterior muscle grow and develop You will feel strong and stable as you move with more freedom

And if you're a fighter, don't be surprised if you start hitting waay harder!

Now, have a look at this gorgeous video showing what we mean by scapulahumeral rhythm:

So while there is need in the gym for the "Shoulder back and down" cue, we mustn't rely on that cue as an instruction for all movement at the shoulder. If you only ever Squat, Bench, Deadlift, there's a fair chance that your scapula are underpowered and could use some loving. Try push ups ad One Arm Push Ups as a way to get your rhythm back. And while these won't get you as strong as a bench press might, they will teach you to make better use of that strength and maybe keep those shoulders working for you for many years longer than otherwise.


Dave Hedges

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