Shoulder Mobility Journey – Part One

In the past, I have documented how my lack of shoulder mobility has held me back and lead to injuries. I have also stated that until I fix this problem, I won’t kip, I won’t go overhead and I won’t be able to reach my goals of walking on my hands, stringing together strict muscle-ups and doing a freestanding handstand pushup.

It’s time to man up and do something about it.

This time, instead of just writing about it, I’m going to show you what my shoulder dysfunction looks like with two basic, but telling, tests.

Kelly Starrett arms overhead test:

For this test, you should stand with your feet hips distance, raise your hands overhead with your thumbs back, elbows locked out, and ears visible while keeping a neutral spine.

Passing this test means you have the shoulder and upper-back mobility to safely and successfully perform movements where your arms are overhead like a pullup, push press, strict press, jerk, or power snatch.

One fails this test when their elbows flare out, shoulders roll forward, and/or their lower back arches. Failing indicates that areas like your lower back will overcompensate for the lack of mobility in your shoulders when trying overhead movements.

Shoulder MOB P1

FMS Shoulder Mobility Screen:

The first step is to measure the distance from your distal wrist crease to the end of your longest finger. You can use a ruler or any other measuring device.

Next, stand with your feet together and make a fist with your thumbs inside of your fingers, like you wouldn’t do if you were going to punch something. Extend both hands out to your sides with your elbows locked out, then reach one fist behind the neck and the other one behind the back at the same time, trying to get the fists as close as possible to each other without forcing it. To test the other side, repeat these steps and switch your top and bottom fists. You may try up to three times per side.

A “passing” score occurs when your hand measurement is greater than the measurement of the gap between the end of the two fists, i.e., your fists are touching or almost touching. If the hand measurement is about the same as the gap between your two fists, or a lot less, then you have suboptimal shoulder mobility.

In most cases, either of the last two results means you will struggle with the same overhead movements mentioned above. Worse, either of these scores, but especially a score where your hand measurement is a lot less than the gap measurement, means you’re likely more susceptible to injury while performing overhead movements. (my hand measures 7″)

Shoulder 2

As you can see from the pictures above, I have a long journey ahead of me. This is frustrating. But I’m sick of dealing with these dysfunctional shoulders, so it’s time to put my big boy boots on and get to steppin’.

I will check in every three months for the next year with pictures of my progress and my quarterly routine to un-stick my shoulders.

Stay tuned . . .