Good shoulder mobility can not only improve shoulder function, but also improve performance and limit injuries. With athletes now specializing in one sport at an early age and many of them increasing their training outside of their sport, their shoulders can lose the flexibility and strength needed to perform at their best. Since most sports primarily use the “pushing” muscles during competition, these muscles can get very strong, but many times at the expense of the pulling muscles. This creates a muscle imbalance and possible decrease in range of motion which can lead to decreased performance and injury. Common injuries to the shoulders may include dislocations, tendinitis and muscle strains. In recent years I have also noted that many cheerleaders with low back pain have limited shoulder mobility. A possible cause could be that the athlete is unable to lift their arms straight overhead and must arch their lower back to get into that position.
So what are the push and pull muscles and how can we help alleviate this issue? The push muscles are the ones in the front of the shoulders and include the pectoralis or chest muscle and the anterior deltoid. The pull muscles are found in the back of the shoulders and include the rotator cuff group, posterior deltoid, rhomboid and latissimus muscles. These muscles primarily stabilize the shoulder joint. There are two simple exercises that can get you on the road to healthier, more stable shoulder. They are standing shoulder flexion and scapular rotation exercises that only require a wall to stand up against. In the shoulder flexion exercise, the athlete stands with their back flat against the wall and raises their arms straight above their head.
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